Yes, Ladies and Gents, the moment you have all been waiting for has finally arrived,……The new blog post telling you all the latest about our Hansel & Gretel Liquorice theatre show has arrived!
As with Collette and Tim’s previous “meetings” tempers got pretty frayed over the editing of Tim’s lovingly crafted script. Tim wanted to keep all his lovely dialogue and subtle tones and Collette wanted everything to be shorter and more obvious. Tim wanted gritty realism, Collette wanted fairytale magic and emotion.
There was another interesting aspect to Tim’s script which I would like to open up for discussion. As I mentioned in my previous post, the main reason we know the witch in the story is a witch, is because the story teller tells us so, and because she likes to eat children and she lives in an unusual house. She doesn’t do anything magic at all.
Now, in Tim’s script, he has deliberately not mentioned the word “witch”. The character is simply referred to by the children as “the old lady”. Now I am not sure how I feel about this. I was very keen for her to seem sweet and innocent to begin with, but if after she starts behaving horribly towards the children, she is a “normal” person who chooses to behave in this dreadful way, what impression would that give the audience? Would it be a lot nastier and more scary if it is a horrible badly behaved old woman who gets pushed in the oven by Gretel? Is this going to promote capital punishment and taking the law into our own hands? If she is a witch, does it make it slightly better because she is a magical being of some sort and part of the whole “not to be taken seriously” allegorical nature of the fairytale?
Those who remember “Spitting Image” will know, that there is a lot one can get away with subject matter wise simply by using puppets to do it. Puppets are not realistic, they can say what they want and they are only puppets, (the fact that a human being is actually putting words into their mouth is something you can get away with). It is similar with “The Simpsons”. Because it is a cartoon the format lets the makers of the show deal with challenging subject matter and no-one bats an eyelid. Despite the fact that it is obviously a show with adult content, many parents let their kids watch it because it is a cartoon. I would like my show to be scary, but at a suitable level for young children. On the other hand, one doesn’t want to cater to the scaredy cat little kid too much.
On one occasion when I was putting on a show in a school; we had not brought out any puppets, we hadn’t said anything and my co-performer and I came on and were just about to start speaking when a girl collapsed into terrified tears and had to be taken out. We were honestly not alarming in appearance, and I can only think it was the shock of us being real people who were actually there, rather than being safely behind a television screen. I think the 2-d figures of the toy theatre may do a lot to mitigate any realism in the script as they are very obviously not real.
We have also made a start on the music. I have been having much fun playing with keyboards, drum machines, actual drums, tin whistles etc. and recording stuff into the computer. This is the very first time that we are using recorded music for a show. This is for practical reasons as we will have far too much to do with the scenery and characters to be playing live music too. Having said that, I am using live type instruments and sound effects and recording them into the computer – they will be transferred to an mp3 player and then played through a very useful pa system of modest proportions as and when necessary. We are using a very useful piece of free software called “Audacity” and it is a lot of fun finding out how to edit music in this way.
So the next jobs are – mocking up sets and puppets, creating a lighting plan and finishing off the music. In the meanwhile why not leave your comments or vote in my poll about the “witch” issue mentioned previously. Watch this space for more news, coming some time next week!