Why We Tell the Story: In Conversation with Louise Beresford and Anna Spearpoint

Believe it or not, we’re approaching the end of 2019 which means that Panto season is among us! This December I’ll be catching The Fairytale Revolution: Wendy’s Awfully Big Adventure, which might have according to one of Theatre503’s tweets, the first all-female Panto team ever? The cast includes Anais Lone as Wendy, Helena Morais as Peter Pan/Smee and also stars writers Louise Beresford as Hook and Anna Spearpoint as the Baker Swife. In this interview, Louise and Anna tell us about their experience of creating this Panto together and what audiences should expect. Read on to find out more!

Name:  Louise Beresford (LB) and Anna Spearpoint (AS)

Role: Writers of The Fairytale Revolution: Wendy’s Awfully Big Adventure

Favourite Show/Play: 

LB: There are many – Anything by Chekhov, Shakespeare.

AS: The Chuckle brothers in Panto when I was younger was a special moment.

Favourite Part About the Theatre: 

Both: Interval ice creams.

Q: Can you tell us what The Fairytale Revolution: Wendy’s Awfully Big Adventure is all about?

AS: Yes. But you should come and see it instead.

LB: It’s about Wendy and Hook travelling through Happily Ever After – the home of all fairy-tale characters – to be able to start their own stories.

AS: It’s a raucous, heart-warming silly-fest. All your favourite characters are finally getting the loving they deserve.

Q: There have been numerous spin-off stories from J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan including the films Hook starring Robin Williams and Finding Neverland starring Johnny Depp. What is it about this tale do you think that audiences love?

LB: We are both massive fans of Hook and want to capture that same magical feeling and message of finding and celebrating who you really are, but this is definitely not a retelling of Peter Pan.

AS: This is a brand-new pantomime and a brand-new story, using characters we know and love.

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Q: How did you both meet and decide to collaborate on writing a Panto and what has the experience been like? 

AS: We met a year ago, when we were both cast in last year’s Theatre503 panto and were brought together by our glorious director Carla Kingham. After lovingly gazing into each other’s funny bones throughout that show, we decided to make work together.

LB: We started a comedy duo, Louisiana, and have been doing open mic nights, but this will be our first show written together. We love panto and it is the perfect form for our joyous, irreverent and utterly ridiculous brand of comedy.

AS: It’s been the most fun show to make. It’s deceptively complicated to write a show that takes the audience on a wild journey, whilst being accessible to all ages, and tugs on those all important heart strings.

LB: And it’s been very fun to write pirate songs and spend an afternoon recording Oger fart noises

AS: Yes. It’s mad that that is a part of our job.

Q: What were your first experiences of panto and is there anything about the genre that excites you in particular? 

AS: I went every year as a child to the big ones in Manchester and loved it. I think they are so important as first introductions to theatre and have levels of accessibility that most other theatre seldom achieves. More plays and musicals should be welcome and open to everyone without feeling like they are only for some people.

LB: I agree, Panto is a great introduction with a little something for everyone. It doesnt take itself too seriously and still a great way to tell a story. I used to love it when things ‘went wrong’ on stage.

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Q: How has this project been different, if at all, from the ones you’ve worked on before?

AS: We’re writing it! This is our first job writing together and performing a full-length piece we’ve written too. So, it’s been great to discover a new process. It is a beautiful thing to go through a process with an all-female cast and creative team, too.

LB: being in the rehearsal room for a larger scale project as the writer and performer has been a very new experience. It has its pros and cons; if a scene isn’t working you feel responsible, but if you get your lines wrong you can just claim it’s a rewrite.

AS: …you really need to stop doing that.

Q: What’s your view on this trend of celebrity stunt casting in pantos. Yay or Nay? 

AS: If it brings new audiences to theatre, then that’s great, but the celebrity must be able to fill the part with as much skill as any actor would have.

Q: What’s different about your Panto is that it will feature an all-female cast – was this a deliberate choice? 

LB: Very much so. Last year we were an all female cast and a mostly female creative team, performing a show originally written by men. This year, we went all the way.

Q: Finally, what should audiences expect when they come to see The Fairytale Revolution: Wendy’s Awfully Big Adventure?

AS: Glorious festive silliness. Lots of laughs and lots of big empowering moments. It’s pretty badass the whole thing. Big songs, dances, fights… the lot.

LB: Puppets. Lots of puppets.

AS: And pies.

The Fairytale Revolution: Wendy’s Awfully Big Adventure will be running at Theatre503 from the 4 to 31 December at the time of writing. https://theatre503.com/whats-on/503panto-a-fairytale-revolution/ 

Portraits by Helen Murray

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