The Timecopter by Elisabeth Greaves, a time-travel musical for children

Timecopter
 

© Elisabeth Greaves 2017


Elisabeth explains how she came to write the show, and what it's about:

"I helped found ACT, now Furness Youth Theatre, as a teenager, when the group gave me a focus for my love of acting and creativity, as well as a great set of friends. I wrote a couple of the tunes for The Hobbit.

Recently FYT performed The Hobbit again, so I had to let my daughters be involved. One became the musical director, one played some key roles, and my two little daughters had their first experience of the excitement of the Forum theatre in Barrow.

The performances drew a decent audience who enjoyed the faithful retelling of Tolkien's children's tale.

Shortly after the performance I was putting the little ones to bed when they suggested WE write a musical. They suggested schoolchildren as characters and role-played with me to help flesh them out. We thought we ought to include things children love - knights, princesses, dragons- also robots, gadgets, rock music! To join these odd elements, we invented The Timecopter. With further input from the girls, and my thirty years of writing fiction, I soon had a plot, then a script.

I have always loved music, and have been the piano accompanist for FYT, as well as accompanying Ulverston Amateur Operatic Society for the last fourteen years. This time I envisaged a very modern on-stage band drawn from the cast and using their individual musical skills. I scored the musical simply, using only eight guitar chords which I now intend to teach to the cast.

The settings will also be simple, allowing the children's skills to be clearly showcased. As an experienced teacher I am enjoying watching their voices and confidence develop.

The plot is fresh and challenging. On the last day of the year, Inventions Day, Miss brings her own "show-and-tell" into class, her Grandad's time-copter. Rocky's more interested in rock guitar lessons, Rose wishes she could travel to Camelot, Mattie insists time-travel is a mathematical impossibility, but the Twins have already plugged it in. Titch is scared as the whole class is transported to the picture on the classroom whiteboard, Camelot. King Arthur and his knights are being terrorised by a dragon. Their solution is to sacrifice a maiden- big-headed Merlin chooses and hypnotises Rose.

A minstrel named Scand believes he can reason with the dragon, and Miss disguises herself as a knight to accompany him and rescue Rose. Talking to the dragon works well, singing and feeding him cake works even better...

Mattie the maths whizz fixes the timecopter, humbling Merlin for the rest of his magically long life. Miss has to go home with her pupils and Scand has to stay with the dragon, so they say a sad goodbye. As the timecopter whirls, the classroom whiteboard shows a documentary on the future, when robots will serve us and people will communicate silently by built-in mobile phones...

INTERVAL

The children arrive in 2173 and Rose encourages market stallholders and customers to talk again, with the help of a broken android, R. Iona.

A screen shows a giant meteor on a collision course for Earth. It has already damaged Earth's satellites so people can't communicate or work out where to shoot a missile to destroy the meteor. But Miss believes Mattie can help. After an anthem song about children being our future and holding our dreams, the class is teleported to the Cabinet, where shiftless ministers debate blindly.

Mattie explains that children in the 21st Century do maths without computers, on paper, as the State Secretary arrives- Merlin, in the last years of his magically long life. He foretells great success and fun for Mattie and a happy life for Miss, though she's still missing the minstrel.

Even after singing a whole musical number about Pi, Mattie can't quite plot the missile's trajectory without a calculator. Iona helps Mattie, sacrificing the last of her electricity to save the world. The fall-out from the meteor recharges her. At a stall advertising "brand new faces" she confides in Miss that she will be 'recycled' if she doesn't escape to the past.

Mattie has set the timecopter for 2019, and the children appear at the school gates with someone who looks just like Miss but talks like a robot...

Mattie takes the timecopter; Merlin has foretold they'll have many more travelling adventures together. In the end we see the minstrel singing sadly to the dragon, until Miss, transported in time by Iona - arrives and joins in. In the finale the children appear years later, and Mattie asks "Well, guys, where shall we go next?"

If there is any message to the story, it is that children are our future, and are completely awesome. I believe this and wish this for the cast."