When the time comes to choose a script for your next panto production, please beware of the closet script writing genius that almost every society, large or small, seem to have in their ranks. Okay, so it saves on the script royalties as such – but is this really the best reason for placing your next show in the hands of a complete novice? Would you consider letting your spring show being written or compiled by a wannabe? Would you trust the reputation of your society to the whims of an amateur? Your pantomime audiences are going to pay good money and deserve the same standard of material and performance as a carefully considered spring or autumn show. Pause for a moment and consider the implications, as getting it wrong could cost your group much more in the long run, than they might save in royalties in the short term.
What experience does your script writing genius have? Can the dialogue be made to fit the style of the cast available to you? Can local satire be sensitively interwoven into the storyline without offence or committing slander? E.g. ‘Have you seen my cat recently? No, but I did think Mr Bull the Butcher’s chipolatas had a distinct taste of pussy!’ (a genuine line from a home-made panto!)
Most first-timers ‘new scripts’ can only be judged by audience reaction, and that is taking a big chance on the unknown. Almost certainly it will be too long with protracted plots and lack of continuity. It is a fact that audiences are influenced by the last show and need to be treated with respect. A poor production can damage a group’s hard-won reputation that could take years to repair.
Of course, it is just possible that the amateur writer in your midst may have come up with a real masterpiece. But the chances are, they haven’t. Remember, it is always easier to adapt a tried and tested script from a reliable source to suit your group’s needs, rather than using an amalgam of ‘bits from pantos performed over the years. Old jokes and routines are fine in the ir place, but originality is key to a truly successful show.