Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Publicity Stunts

The animations for 'Nearly King Jimbo' are gathering apace. Andy is rapidly proving himself to be a creative genius in this field and I have suggested he sets up a company called 'Andy Mations'. Or possibly 'Andy Matronixs'. Or possible neither, he said as he politely declined my suggestions.

Over the last few evenings he has been working on the piece of cartoon to go with the episode where the character of King Andy is revealed to have a bee living in his ear. It is very entertaining. There are frisky feelers, wax and a drumkit, all inside a real ear. It looks very convincing! The piece to accompany the Archbishop of Titbury von Streudelheim making a right Royal cock-up of the Coronation also looks good, with clever use of light and shade. Neither of us are sure of the shot showing the Archbishop sitting in an armchair watching cricket on the TV though. From a certain angle it looks as if there is some dubious activity happening in his lap region and I'm not talking crocheting doilies for the communion table here. Andy agrees he may have to review this piece of cartooning before we 'go public.'

And going public got me thinking about my own performance of the script. Now, I used to be a great fan of 'Jackanory' when I was a child. I liked it best when the storyteller sat and told you the story from the book and there were camera shots of the illustrations. I liked the voices the storyteller used for the different characters, too. But I would become agitated when the story teller started getting up and walking around whilst they were speaking. I especially remember Rik Mayall performing 'George's Marvellous Medicine' by Roald Dahl. He was all over the shop! And he had props. What was he doing? What was he trying to prove?? Very disturbing and I never felt the same about Jackanory again (even though I was an adult when this happened - I think I must have been watching it with my children when they were small.)

But I think I must be realistic about how I shall have to present my material to the children of today. I need to remember they have the attention span of a frog on a hot-plate so in order to hold their attention I need to 'perform'. Luckily, I was a drama teacher in a previous existence so have experience of how to keep 30+ children alert to what is going on before them. Obviously, some techniques do not lend themselves to the media of You-Tube, so throwing props or whiteboard marker pens at them won't be any good. But I can do voices. And mime. I once conducted 25 minutes of a lesson completely in mime. Admittedly, I did at one point end up head first in an upended stage block, but still the students kept with the spirit of the experience and mimed laughing at me.

And it occurred to me I'll need a gimmick if I am going to be a visual performer. Something that will become synonymous with my work. Like Terry Pratchett has his hat, Barbara Cartland had her pink things and Martin Amis has a chip on his shoulder. 'Oh, I wouldn't have a chimp on my shoulder,' says Mrs Miggins who has just dropped in to borrow the Stylophone. 'I said 'chip' not 'chimp',' I say. 'Besides, do chickens have shoulders?' 'No,' says Miggins, 'which is why I wouldn't have a chimp there.'

Actually, there's an idea. I could perform with a chicken on my shoulder. Or maybe I could gather them all around my feet and they could gaze up at me adoringly whilst I read the adventures of Nearly King Jimbo to them. Or I could make a pompom bee and have it sticking out of my ear as though it is flying around for a bit a fresh air. I could wear a crown and pretend to be the Queen. I still have the tiara I wore when Andy and I got married. I could sit on a little yellow tricycle like Mr Jobble - Tybalt could sit in the basket and pretend to be Mick the Dog. If only I could persuade him to bark it would be perfect. Or I could pretend to be Alice and bake real biscuits as I told the story and then I could use them as merchandise and sell them on e-bay or bid tv...

'I think you're getting carried away,' says Miggins. She starts to play 'Eidelweiss' on the Stylophone in an attempt to calm me down.
'I have to think about these things,' I screech as my office becomes a trying on frenzy of tiaras, hats, scarves, novelty t-shirts and scuba diving outfits.
'How long is this film going to be?' asks Miggins.
'About 40 minutes,' I say. (I don't know this for certain - it was the first portion of time to come into my mind.)
'And how much has Andy produced so far?'
'About 12 seconds,'
'I rest my case, m'lud,' says Miggins.
'You can't,' I say. 'I used that as a sign off yesterday.'

No comments: