21 November 2020
Posted by Tabby Hayward
11-14 group - 13 attending
15-18 group - 8 attending
This week, continuing with our work inspired by the One Thousand and One Nights folk tales, we were looking at the story of Aladdin.
In the first group, as a warm up we all thought of the three things we would wish for, if we were lucky enough to get our hands on a magic lamp. Wishes varied from unlimited ice cream to an end to global warming!
In both groups, we then had a quick recap of the basics of the Aladdin story (bearing in mind that it's been told and retold in many variations - including two different retellings by Disney alone!) We then all chose one scene or section from Aladdin to write in the style of a screenplay...
To remind ourselves how screenplays are set out, we looked at two examples. The first group looked at the script for an episode of The Worst Witch, while in the second group we looked at an episode of Merlin. We focused on what you could do with a screenplay that might not be so easy in a story (e.g. cutting rapidly between different scenes, using a voiceover to narrate events, etc), as well as how to set it out in a clear way. Putting this all together, the young writers chose a part of the Aladdin story they wanted to rewrite, and wrote it as a scene from a screenplay. For example, Elsie wrote the scene where the Princess is waiting in her room for Aladdin to come by on his magic carpet, while Lily wrote the scene leading up to Aladdin (now a prince, thanks to the genie!) arriving at the emperor's palace for the first time, in a carnival of wild extravagance!
Next, we departed from the original story a little more, as the young writers were challenged to write a sequel to Aladdin entitled The Return of the Lamp!
Here are some questions we thought about:
Where could the lamp end up? (a scrap heap/a charity shop/someone’s house/a bin/an edgy modern art installation?!)
Who could find it?
When and where would this sequel be set (present day/future/a parallel universe/another country?)
How would the character discover the lamp’s powers?
What would this new character wish for?
The young writers could write this new sequel as a story or a screenplay, thinking about when they would like the story to begin (would there be backstory for either their new character or for how the lamp ended up where it did?), whose perspective it would focus on, and what sort of genre this story would take the form of (sci fi/fantasy/historical/family drama/romance, etc).
Here are some of the brilliant examples from our young writers:
"I am the most popular titan in the universe," croaked Thanos," You wouldn't want to mess with me. For this you will meet your doom!" SNAP! Thanos had done it. Now half of the population was gone. Thanos was right. No one could mess with him. But there may be hope.
Far away on the other side of the world was Dumpster Diver Daniel. In one of the dumpsters was a piece of (drum roll please) … RUBISH!! He was proud and was bringing it home. He knew his family would be proud.
Thanos knew he had half the population left. He headed for the other side.
Daniel was heading home when he saw a lamp. There came out a genie.
"Hello, can I order an infinity gauntlet and a big mac with 32 nuggets." Daniel saw Thanos in the air. He snapped. THANOS WAS DEAD.
What if the genie had never been set free?
After David Attenborough and his crew had finished filming, Soundman Dave, or just Dave, went to Subway for an afternoon snack as he thought he deserved it. He was tempted to take most of the items they filmed, but he didn’t try to (for some of them). Dave bought a meatball sub and a Diet Coke and sat down on a bench outside.
He was about to take a bite out of his sub, but he saw, out of the corner of his eye, a lamp. It was gold-coloured, smooth and looked like it needed to be cleaned. Intrigued, Dave carefully picked up the lamp. He knew he wasn’t stealing, as it was just left there.
He looked at the lamp for a few moments, deciding whether to eat his sub or not. He decided to take a few bites. But, as delicious as it was, he spilt some tomato sauce on the lamp.
Quickly, he put the sub down and, using a napkin, he tried to get the sauce off it.
As he did so, smoke seeped out of the end of it, causing Dave to cough (don’t worry it’s 2018).
Then he saw what looked like a person fly out of the lamp. Startled, he put the lamp down on the bench and stepped back.
A giant floating figure stood (well stood doesn’t sound right as genies don’t really have legs as such so let’s say floated) before him.
Shocked, he stood there confused.
In a smallish voice he said, “Excuse me, but who are you?”
“Who am I? Seriously? Have you not heard of the genie in the lamp?” the genie replied.
Dave shook his head.
“Ok , this may take a while, but I’ll cut it short. I’m a genie. I live in that lamp and I can grant you 3 wishes. But you can’t ask for more wishes. Have you got that?” the genie said.
“So what is your first wish?” the genie asked.
The lamp was sat upon the side table, blood smeared across its golden side and the lid only slightly askew. Picking it up in my gloved hands, I turned it side-to-side. “They were murdered with the lamp? How quaint.”
“Ida,” Nikolay scolded, as if he didn’t find the entire situation faintly amusing himself. “I assume that it was the only thing they had on hand.”
I turned on him, holding the lamp aloft as it if were a skull in a production of Hamlet. “There are all manner of weapons about the place! It’s two paces to the nearest sword. This lamp must have some kind of significance.” Nikolay only continued glaring at me, and so I moved my gaze to the lamp and said, “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him—”
Snatching the lamp from my hands with his handkerchief covering his fingers, Nikolay placed it back down on the side table. “Very funny, Ida. Is that all the Hamlet you know?”
“Most of it,” I admitted, sitting down on the ground to look at the chalk outline. It wasn’t terribly well-drawn, but the foetal position indicated a degree of pain, rather than the failing limbs one would associate with a struggle. “I didn’t pay terrible amounts of attention in school, you know. I only know the next few lines of that monologue and everything else is Greek to me.”
Despite his pointed glare that clearly read ‘don’t you dare, Ida Conquest’, I began in a dramatic voice, “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath— ha! It almost sounds like you, Nikolay.”
His murderous look quickly fell into amusement. “You have me mixed up with our current main suspect, Ida dear. And you clearly paid enough attention to become a most excellent detective,” he said, pulling out a chair to stand on, intending to peer at the contents of a high-up shelf. “Have you tried rubbing the lamp?”
“Do you want me to try?”
“We’ve already sufficiently contaminated this crime scene, what’s one more miscarriage of evidence?”
Rolling my eyes, I reached over and dragged my finger across the lamp a few times, feeling slightly like a child in a school play. When that failed, I carefully plucked the lid from the lamp and leant my face over it, drawing back in a haze of coughing and retching once taking a deep breath in.
Nikolay leapt down from the chair and rushed over, asking, “Ida, what did you do?”
“Why do you automatically assume that I’ve done something? It’s a terribly rude habit,” I said sternly, rubbing my eyes.
“Because you usually have. Things don’t happen to you, Ida, you happen to things.” With some trepidation, Nikolay picked up the lamp as if he expected it to combust in his hands.
“Do you think it’s a genie?” I asked.
“Genies don’t exist, Ida,” he said, though he smiled. When he leant over the lamp and breathed in, just as I had, he didn’t cough or choke or gasp in the way that it had compelled me to. Instead, a look of understanding came onto his face all at once. “I have an idea. We need to turn out the pockets of everybody in the building at once.”
I didn’t move. Instead, I fixed him with my most judgemental look and asked, “What is it? Do go on, I know that you’re dying to tell me how clever you are.”
“People don’t get murdered over genies and wishes, Ida. Over drug disputes, however… now that is a possibility!”
“Your mind always jumps to people being murdered in disputes over vices, have you noticed that?” I said as we walked together to the door. “Drugs, cigars, alcohol… It’s a terribly bad habit, Nikolay.”
“Exactly why I don’t take it up, Ida. Instead I professionally judge others for it, it’s much more cathartic.”
I rolled my eyes and followed him down the stairs, casting a glance back at the lamp. It was quite ridiculous, but I could have sworn that it knew I was there.
As you might recognise from our previous blogs, many of our young writers chose to include a character from a previous story or script they had begun (e.g. Evie's Soundman Dave, or Lily's detective duo!) to be the one to find the lamp again - it was great to hear more from these characters!