Towards the end of the run of “Aladdin & The Lost Christmas”, John asked me an important question. Would I, Amy Hansford, officially co-direct the following year’s panto with him?
A simple question, you might think. But not so. It took some thought.
My instant thought was ‘yes, of course, yes! I want to direct and be a part of the best little panto in Milton Keynes!’. But I’ve learned over the past year that I have to interview both my heart AND my head when making decisions. So I took some time to think.
Heart: This is so cool! I’m honoured! I’ve loved doing a bit of directing this year and I want to do more!
Head: Hold up – this isn’t just saying yes to next year. This is committing further than that. You can’t just jump in, do a bit, then walk away.
Heart: I know, but I love panto! And I love being in a position to help make it even better!
Head: Granted. So you’re okay with the extra commitment?
Head: This isn’t just being at every rehearsal. This is joining the production team for the show, making decisions, judgements.
Heart: Yeah, I want that. I like being able to steer stuff!
Head: Being on the audition panel.
Heart: That’s cool!
Head: Is it? Having to tell some people yes and some people no?
Heart: Um… not that bit.
Head: No. Still okay with it?
Heart: … Yeah. Yeah, I can do that.
Head: Okay, so what about keeping the cast happy?
Heart: It’s pantoland, everyone’s happy!
Head: Not always – you need to listen to everyone. Sometimes you’ll need to make a decision that’s right for the show, but it might put noses out of joint. It’s a tightrope. You’re doing a million things in the background and in your head, people only see what’s happening on the surface.
Heart: You’re making this less fun.
Head: I’m being practical.
Heart: But what about the fun? And spending time with my friends, and being part of something meaningful? And being instrumental in something that is an actual part of the Christmas tradition for families?
Head: About that – do you really want that pressure?
Heart: Of having fun?
Head: Of not ruining Christmas. Of taking on arguably the most successful ‘amateur’ pantomime in Britain.
Head: Sells out in advance, raises large amounts for charity, keeps ticket prices low to ensure everyone has access to family entertainment, keeps subs low to ensure everyone has access to being in panto, amazing costumes and sets and lights and sound, bespoke music…
Heart: Alright alright alright. Yes, I want all those good things. And yes, I will take on all the bad things.
Head: What about the year after?
Head: What. About. The.
Heart: I heard you. Yes. The year after. And the year after that. I’ll take it. All of it.
And so I said yes.
Onwards to Oz…