Once upon a time… in fact, just over a year ago, we received a surprising request: put together a show for the Teulada-Moraira schoolchildren studying English.
That was soon after our “Letters in Time“, which we performed twice. It was a success and, obviously, our counterpart in the ayuntamiento had heard about it (let’s be honest: probably from us). We said yes, of course, we’ll be delighted to do it. In hindsight, perhaps because some of us didn’t understand what our Spanish friend was asking us to do. Or, perhaps, we did understand, but we considered, foolishly, that we could do it anyway.
We were asked to perform in Teulada, in the Conservatory theatre, so we moved our meetings there and started working on the production. Our crack team of writers: Ros Bolsover, Jo Thompson, Anne Rodger and members of the U3A Creative Writing Group started tossing around ideas and, after some discussion, we came to the conclusion that Letters in Time, even adapted, would not be suitable for young children and that we had to come up with something more likely to retain their attention – like, let’s say, a pantomime.
I’d like to say that putting together the show and rehearsals was hard work, a struggle – but I won’t, because we had a good time putting it together and, when you have a laugh, even hard work seems easy.
The day of the show in Teulada, children piled in, excited by the diversion and the chance to get out of school. Our friend from the ayuntamiento explained the format of the pantomime, which is entirely unknown in Spain: that the chicas were played by chicos and viceversa, when to say “No you don’t!” and “Yes, you do!” and a few other essential instructions.
Trevor Kemp and Dave Collins were in the control room, dealing with the sound and lights, while I was sitting at the side of the stage, dealing with our “projected scenery” and effects. Then Cinderella (Dee Cain) came out with her broom, followed, soon after, by the Ugly Sisters (Ann Cattle and Mick O’Connor). It was really funny hearing the little ones, sitting at the front, gasping every time the Ugly Sisters came out wearing their outrageous costumes, or did something really silly – which was all the time, of course. The children soon understood when to make noise, boo and say “No you don’t”, also with the help of the little Britons sitting with their Spanish schoolmates. And so Cinderella, the Ugly Sisters, Prince Charming (Cindy Hinton), Fairy Godmother (Jo Simpson), Buttons (Marion Schreurs), the Guests, etc. went through all their travails and surprises, highs and lows – with the actors eliciting delighted surprise, gasps and laughs from the audience at each change of costume and silly behaviour.
Then it was time for the “…They Lived Happily Ever After…” ending – and the distribution of sweets to a very excited audience.
We performed again for the Moraira schoolchildren, at La Senieta – and, after tweaking the show based on the experience of the first performance, we had even more reaction from the audience.
At the end of the performance, one of the few adults in the audience came up with the question: Why don’t you perform for adults, as they were left out from both performances, because we did not know how many children would turn up. So off we went, for a third performance, with the addition of an introduction, to make it more of an “adult” version. Again, the show was well attended and we had good reactions from the audience and, no sooner had the actors changed into their civilian clothes and I finished packing my technical gear, Ros Bolsover, our producer, was already busy discussing, very excitedly, our next production. No, I can’t tell you what will be the subject – just watch this space for more news soon.
Oh and, of course, we had our traditional meal after each show – it goes without saying. Because it may be hard work but, above all, it’s fun.