With our improvised children's show Pick Your Own Panto coming up, one of the creators and performers in the show, Rob Egginton, has shared three things that he finds incredibly fun when doing improv shows for kids…
1. Black and white is the new black
There is a place in Children's theatre for nuance and ambiguity, but it's also OK to have a villain who is just plain awful, a fairy who is utterly lovely and a hero who is a complete idiot. Larger than life characters like this are a lot of fun to play. Some of the best moments can come when a horrible king is deposed, or the idiot son manages to win through despite himself.
2. From the bottom of our… bottoms
One improv maxim is to play "to the top of your intelligence". That can give you some rich and realistic drama. But there's nothing wrong with a little toilet humour. It gets a little tiring to have a whole show of it – like so many things balance is key.
But the occasional joke or character based around flatulence? Brilliant. A hero who literally wets themselves in fear the first time they encounter danger (and must learn to be more brave as the story goes on)? Why not? But maybe make the next scene about something else 🙂
3. Honesty is the best policy
Some of the best improvisation comes from being vulnerable and honest on stage. For a heavily interactive show, that's important for making a connection with the audience – kids can tell if you're being fake, and hate being preached to. And children are the most honest audience you'll find. If they like that you're doing they'll let you know, and similarly if they don't like it they'll tell you too.
Within the stories that we tell in Pick Your Own Panto, honesty can be very important for the characters too. We all love a panto villain, but as everyone who knows their pantos can tell you – if you lie to the fairy or wise old character it'll go badly for you in the end!
Rob Egginton, Co-Creator & Performer
Pick Your Own Panto is on the weekend before and after Christmas. Tickets are £8 and £28 for a family (2 adults, 2 kids or 1 adult and 3 kids) Children 3 years and under go free.