Cast your minds back, if you would be so kind, to the first day at school! Done? Don’t lie, I bet you can’t actually remember it, I know I can’t, but let’s pretend we can! ITS RUDDY NERVE WRACKING AIN’T IT!
Anyway for me the first day of rehearsals shouldn’t be like that, we are doing panto because we love it! If you are new to pantomime and you are going into the first day of rehearsals with nerves shake them off… do a happy dance out in the corridor, for the next 4-10 weeks this is going to the most fun you have had all year!
I can remember my first day, 2009 – Yeovil – Dick Whittington! Told to get to the theatre for 9.30 for a meeting in the bar with everyone, I arrived from the digs, walked into the town centre and grabbed a Starbucks (other Coffee Shops are available) sat down, had 10 minutes of peace to myself, then walked up to the theatre. Luckily I had met most of the cast before at the Press Launch, so it was nice to refresh my memory and meet them all again properly for the second time! The atmosphere is great, we are all here for one think and one thing only, to have a piggin’ good time! If you can’t enjoy yourself doing panto you are in the wrong job! Hand shakes, hugs, and kisses later we all sit down to introduce ourselves to the dancers and the theatre staff!! they are now our panto family for the next 5 weeks!
For me the first day is about getting to know everyone and getting a feel for whats going to happen with the cast, and really looking forward to the first night drinks!! (should I advocate that? – Stuff it I am! – If you are working with me… mines a large Rioja)
So after a read through, a coffee and biscuit breakI recon all your first day nerves will be gone and you’ll be then looking forward to first night nerves… I’ll let someone else tell you about that!
Heckles and lively audiences!
During the run, if you don’t get heckles and a lively audience you may need to check where you are preforming, it may be a grave yard!
I can’t really help here, this comes from experience, from working the circuit and from knowing your character! But what I will say is if you do get heckled it all depends who you are as to what you do. In my experience there should only be a few people on stage who can break character and deal with the heckle, and if you are a “standard” principle boy/girl it shouldn’t be you! The Dame has chance to play with heckles along with the comic and the villain, but it often feel awkward if you have a principle girl answering the audience back! So know your character, and know what you can do! Have a bank of about 5 responses you can call on with a heckler, as you can use a lot of them in many situations! But these are for you to decide and for you to use – and as I say it all depends on who you are and what you can do! BUT BE QUICK, and know when to leave it, don’t let the audience get the better of you, and if you take too long to respond the moment has passed and you look like a plonker, and if you let the audience get the better of you the show will turn to chaos, so sometimes it is best to leave it and move on!!
Dealing with a heckle comes with experience and doing it for a long time! But you’ll get there in the end!!
I hope my “advice” has helped, if you are starting in Panto this year have the most wonderful Christmas and enjoy every second of it!!
Happy Panto Day!