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Dick Whittington - A British-style pantomime
I'm working at a high school in Japan and have just put together a script for a pantomime which I thought would be good for the school culture festival. I've tried to keep the English as simple as possible, and included some Japanese-speaking characters to help the audience to keep track of what's going on (though due to my limited Japanese ability their parts are written only in English and will need translating).
Unfortunately the ESS (English speaking society) members decided that it was too much like hard work, and the Drama club is writing its own play, so I now have a script with no takers! Here is a brief description of what it's all about; if you think you might be able to make use of my script then please email me on [email protected] and I'll send you a copy. It comes as two documents in Word format, one describing the concept, plot and characters, and the other containing the actual script. Together they total less than 80KB. Alternatively I can send it as a rich text email.
WHAT IS A PANTOMIME?
A pantomime is a uniquely British form of theatre entertainment, usually performed around New Year. Usually it tells a fairy tale, but in the case of Dick Whittington there is some truth to the story. Some of the most popular stories are “Cinderella”, “Aladdin”, “Dick Whittington”, and “Jack and the Beanstalk”.
A traditional pantomime always has certain elements:
- a story where good triumphs over evil
- jokes (most of them very old!) and slapstick comedy
- song and dance
- a pantomime dame, usually a middle-aged man dressed in a ridiculous woman’s costume
- a principal boy, the hero of the pantomime, usually played by a woman
- a very nasty villain
- audience participation
Dick Whittington, a poor boy from Gloucestershire, goes to London to seek his fortune, but he can’t find a job. Dejected, he turns round to go home. On the way he meets a cat, which he calls Tommy, and before he’s gone very far, he hears the church bells of London calling him back – they seem to be saying “Turn again Whittington, Lord Mayor of London!” (This bit is covered in Japanese by the narrator.)
He returns to London and meets Alice Fitzwarren, the daughter of a rich merchant, who gets him a job working in her father’s shop. Tommy the cat makes friends with Sarah the cook (and pantomime dame), by catching rats in the kitchen.
The villain of the story is King Rat. One night, he organizes a burglary at the Fitzwarrens’ house, when he locks Tommy in the kitchen and steals a valuable necklace belonging to Alice. The next day the theft is discovered, and Dick is blamed. He’s sacked from his job and runs away to sea, with his cat. Alice and Sarah follow him, because Alice doesn’t believe that he has stolen the necklace. King Rat is on the same ship, going to sell the necklace overseas and check on his rat kingdom in Japan. Of course, this being panto-land, the journey only takes a day or two.
The rats are a very serious problem in Japan, and there are no cats there (I wish this were true - the cats here are the noisiest I've ever heard!). Tommy immediately starts catching rats, and finally catches King Rat. The necklace is recovered, and the emperor is so delighted to get rid of the rats that he gives half of his fortune to Dick.
Dick, Tommy, Alice and Sarah return to London, and Alice tells her father the whole story. Dick and Alice get married, and Dick later becomes Lord Mayor of London.
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