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Interpreting my first Panto

On December 28th 2013 I had my first ever experience of interpreting a pantomime, here is a brief account of how the experience was for me.

Over the last 7 ish years I have interpreted about 8 performances but I've always avoided pantomimes. The music, the jokes, all the innuendos just fill me with dread, so much of it just feels impossible to interpret accurately and effectively. So during the lead up to the festive period I would always keep quiet, avoid our booking co-ordinator and hide if needed. Anything to avoid the bookings.

But this year I decided to be brave, earlier in the year I  interpreted at the "Signgigs" event in Bristol, which was terrifying but an amazing experience which I totally loved. Signing songs in front of hundreds of Deaf people and interpreters was a daunting task but surprisingly fun. I loved the preparation; really thinking of the meaning of the songs, trying to reflect the emotion of the songs and trying to be as much as a part of the band as possible. Some lyrics were harder than others to translate, "Wuthering Heights" was tricky but hopefully it came across ok. I loved interpreting the music and it gave me the courage to work in theatre more and to try a pantomime. Thanks to  Helen Caldwell, Anna Edmonds and Lynn Stewart Taylor for encouraging me and supporting me through the event. As well as loving the interpreting I got to buy a new dress which is obviously very important : )

So I agreed to Interpret "Jack and the Beanstalk" at the Princess theatre in Torquay, the theatre staff and cast were so supportive sending me scripts, DVDs, arranging tickets to view the show etc etc etc. All of their support made the preparation so much easier.

Once I got the script, I panicked and remembered exactly why I don't do Pantomimes, there were loads of bits of the script that were not finalised yet, songs that would be added nearer the time, it felt like hundreds of jokes that used play on words that just made my head spin. Thank goodness I have great local support, Helen Caldwell and Clare Seal both have lots of experience in pantomimes, they gave me lots of practical / emotional support to help me start preparing the script rather than just panicking.

I saw the show at the beginning of December, it was a great show, easy to see the appeal to families and it made me determined to make sure the Deaf families attending got access to the play in it's entirety.

My family must have got sick of the play as I was constantly watching scenes from the panto and listening to the songs non stop in my car. But every little bit of time helped. After watching the show it was much easy to try and reflect the characters in the play using visual prompts such as their costumes, characteristics etc.

On the day I was nervous but some nerves are good to get your adrenaline going, my family came to watch, it was the first time that my children had seen me on stage which was a great opportunity for them, although my daughter was far more excited that she and her friend got to meet Fairy Pea Pod!

Once the show started and I had done the first 5 mins I totally got into the show, booing at the baddies, dancing to the music and trying to keep with the comedy version of the "12 days of christmas".
In all seriousness it was great to do something away from the "normal" routine of interpreting but using all our normal skills, roleshift, reflecting the speaker, using time lag effectively, expressing the meaning etc. But most importantly to do something that challenges us but with support.

So now looking at 2014, I wonder what the next challenging job will be?

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