Anglo-French panto success leads to play

… oh yes it does!

26 February 2020
The Sleeping Beauty panto brought some bilingual fun
By Connexion journalist

A bilingual pantomime proved so popular that a second show is being arranged by an Anglo-French theatre company.

The Fun Théâtre Communautair association is putting on a new show in Passais-la-Conception, Normandy, this month after a huge success with its production of Sleeping Beauty last year.

Seven hundred people saw the show and it even got a mention from the priest at Mass.

He said the panto was a wonderful spectacle and a splendid example of community co-operation.

Fun Théâtre (funtheatre.fr) was created by Graham and Rosa Follett in 2018, a year after they retired to Normandy.

They were unable to speak French but had a huge determination to integrate.

In the UK, they were involved in community theatre and they decided to find a way to produce plays to attract both English and French casts and audiences.

Sleeping Beauty was the result, with a dual-language script, which Mr Follett said was complicated to construct but, with help from French friends, worked.

“The dialogue is an intertwining of conversations between characters, some of whom speak only French, some only English, and some who speak both. The result is a fast-flowing dialogue that contains just enough information in each language to ensure the whole aud-ience knows what is going on,” he said.

“Everybody who wanted to take part, in any way whatsoever, was welcomed and encouraged. We wrote the script around the actors, rather than finding people to fit the script. Both local mayors played small parts and we got local businesses involved, asked the tourist office to sell tickets, and got good coverage in the local press.

“We set the story in the local area. It was incredibly hard work but the result exceeded all our expectations.”

The new play is a murder mystery set around a talent show, again with local connections, and called Passais Villages a un Incroyable Talent.

“I had even more people who wanted to take part – 28. With so many on-stage characters, together with the complexities of an integrated bilingual script, it is another big challenge for all involved,” said Mr Follett.

“I have handed the direction over to a French friend, which means the first language in the rehearsals is not English, making it more attractive to aspiring local actors.”

The new play is in three acts, with a three-course meal being served between acts.

Places are limited to 120 per performance, on March 20, 21 and 22.

Sleeping Beauty was planned as a one-off but there are already plans for another pantomime in 2021.

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