Write a Brilliant Pantomime with Billy & Wolfy

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The two golden Rules

1.  Aim for a masterpiece like Billy Shakespear and Wolfy Mozart did. (You will hit below your aim,  so donít aim low!).

2. Have a strong plot - without it there is nothing for the fancies and furbelows of the pantomime to hang on.

The pantomime tradition is a wonderful gift that Billy and Wolfy would have died for  It has:

:A strong plot with mythic overtones. (Fairy stories have deep psychological roots - think Jung and Bettelheim - see links on the "Story" page) - and have been honed by telling thousands of times.

The dame and other comic characters let you comment on the myth and magic from an earthy point of view

Music is there to carry the emotion and to connect with the audience.

Supernatural characters let you explore deeper than the everyday.

A sympathetic audience who know the traditions.  This gets you half way there before you start.

Think what Shakespeare and Mozart have done with this and try to do the same! Donít aim low.

About this site

Whatís with Wolfy and Billy?

The problem with most pantomime writers is that they aim too low.  So I thought this web site needed two things.  First a sort of a joke so that the site is in keeping with the subject, second an encouragement to aim high.  The use of Mozart and Shakespeare seemed to do both.  

William Shakespeare and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart are the natural heroes of pantomime writers.  Shakespeare because: 1. He was willing and able to introduce comedy into the midst of high seriousness (the porter in Mac Beth, the skull in Hamlet and so on) 2. Because the nurse in Romeo and Juliet is the prototypical pantomime Dame (and maybe) 3 because "As you like it" is so full of cross dressing.  Mozart because "The Magic Flute" is a kind of pantomime written by a genius and the other operas mix  the comic and the poignant and even the tragic with such brilliance and panache.  So think Shakespeare and Mozart as you write, and you won't aim low  Who knows, you could write a masterpiece.  Of course you don't have to know, or like, Shakespeare or Mozart to write a brilliant pantomime.  Think Star Wars or Spielberg and model yourself on what you think is brilliant.  Just don't model yourself on something the next village or the local theatre (or the television!) did last year that you didn't like.  Aim high!

A note on the English pantomime

This site tries to teach the best way to write a pantomime script (an English pantomime script) in a way that fits the subject Ė a form that is serious, comic, absurd, poetic and surreal all at the same time.  It talks about the English pantomime, which is very different from European and American ideas of pantomime.  If you do not know the tradition, follow the "Next" link leads to my summary and on, if you want, to other sites that cover the subject in greater depth.  

This site is written by Nick Mellersh who has written twenty or so pantomimes.  I have tried always to treat the pantomime as an important art form and the site aims to encourage this.  Pantomime is the last living folk art  in England.  It offers wonderful possibilities though many are widely ignored.  It would be sad if English Pantomime dies.  But if people fail to see beyond the tired old jokes, and the vanities brought to it by self indulgent writers and actors,  pantomime will surely die - and deservedly so.  I hope this site helps you join me in the crusade to keep pantomime as a brilliant, vibrant, poetic work of art.  And one that can be seen all over the UK every year. 

How to use this site

If you think Billy and Wolfy are a stupid idea, you can read the site as a prose work in The Essay.  If you want to learn what little I can teach you, precede through the Next links on each page. Enjoy the ride.  As well as links through the tutorial there are also links to my own pantomime scripts and (via that link) to my other plays. Nick Mellersh  Oct 2002.

©Nick Mellersh October 2002
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