Guest Blog: Super Power Panto Co-Writer Paula Connolly
My name is Paula Connolly. I am visually impaired and have hearing loss. I’m an actor, director and writer and I am extremely proud to be a co-writer and part of the Super Power Panto Team.
For several years now I have been lucky enough to be involved with Extant, who not only support inclusive theatre and performance but have taken real strides to develop it. Through their Pathways Directors, Writers Actors and Crew and Design courses they have helped to support countless visually impaired artists to develop inclusive theatre themselves.
I first became involved with Extant in 2019 on their Pathways Directors course. During Pathways Directors, I developed and directed a five-minute piece featuring built-in audio description as part of the story. I continued my involvement with Extant and eventually completed the Pathways Writers course in 2022; this time as a writer I integrated audio description into the piece, again as part of the narrative.
When Extant advertised an opportunity to co-write a panto I jumped at the chance as I have always loved pantomime. Then when I found out I had actually been chosen to co-write the show I couldn’t believe it. I jumped for joy. ‘Oh no you didn’t’ Oh yes I did! I jumped for joy for about a month. I was incredibly excited for such an experience and was really looking forward to working with my co-writer from Simply Smiley, Kelly Griffiths. It was brilliant fun writing with Kelly – bouncing ideas off each other to make the story both educational and funny.
Super Power Panto is a family show that looks at how we overcome both prejudice and environmental difficulties. We don’t have to be able to fly. Or have x-ray vision. Or run faster than a speeding car. We just need to look into ourselves and see what’s already there: like confidence, self-belief and kindness to name just a few of the superpowers we all have.
Sally, the heroine of Super Power Panto (played brilliantly by Jasmin Thien) finds her superpower and helps others to find theirs. Her story takes us on an adventure from Sally’s home, into the city, to the park and the observatory. All of this is set against the backdrop of a giant comic book set, the pages of which turn back and forth as we progress through our story. In classic panto style there are songs to sing along to and plenty of ‘She’s behind you’s and ‘Oh no I’m not’s to make absolutely sure you’re invested and engaged in our heroine’s quest for a fuller and more enjoyable life. The show also has built-in audio description to make sure it is inclusive – oh yes it does!
Overall, I’d have to say that writing Super Power Panto has been a wonderful experience. I’d recommend it to anyone.
Written by Paula Connolly
Super Power Panto is now booking in venues around the UK in March 2023. For full tour information head including where to book tickets, head to: https://extant.org.uk/productions/super-power-panto/