Caroline Thompson Edward Scissorhands
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Caroline Thompson on Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands Adaptation

Caroline Thompson, original screenwriter of Edward Scissorhands is discussing Matthew Bourne’s adaptation at Newcastle Theatre Royal playing from 27 March until 6 April

Devised, directed and choreographed by Sir Matthew Bourne OBE and based on the original motion picture directed by Tim Burton with a screenplay by Caroline Thompson; the highly anticipated dance production Edward Scissorhands, promises a witty, emotional and bittersweet story of an incomplete boy left alone in a strange new world.

Edward Scissorhands was born in June 1986 in the Bombay Bicycle Club restaurant in West Los Angeles, California, when Tim Burton, then a little-known director and producer was having a drink at the bar with Caroline Thompson, an American novelist and screenwriter.

Caroline Thompson Edward Scissorhands

“We had been introduced a couple of months earlier by our agents,” Caroline shares,

“They had put us together because they didn’t know quite what to do with either one of us!”

At that time, Tim had directed one hugely popular but peculiar feature film, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. Caroline was the author of a virtually unknown and peculiar Gothic novel called First Born.

Happily, the pair liked one another immediately and wanted to work together, over time discussing possible ideas.

“Then, on that evening at the Bombay Bicycle Club, (Tim) told me about a drawing he had made in school. It was a boy who had scissors instead of hands.”

“Sometimes a story arrives all at once. Edward Scissorhands was just such a story.”

It landed in an instant – the instant after Tim told Caroline about his drawing and was instantly exhilarating for them. The story occupied realms both held dear and spun cunningly on the Frankenstein story.

It examined the shiny surfaces of suburbia and the ugly underneath. It conjured childhood, nostalgia and resentments, yet, at the same time, Caroline admits it seemed “totally ridiculous, stupid even.”

Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands

Its central metaphor seemed excruciatingly obvious to her – “If you have no hands, you can’t touch; if you can’t touch, you can’t have contact; if you can’t have contact, you can’t connect, you can’t belong, you’re left out, if, additionally, instead of hands you wield scissors, sharp blades, everything you do actually dare to touch rips or shreds or turns to tatters…” She shrugs.

Initially, the movie was going to be a musical and Caroline postponed writing the screenplay, determining first to write an extended treatment in prose. The concept may have landed in an instant, but Caroline still had to explore and articulate it.

“It’s difficult to explain,” she starts, “I felt that my job as the writer was to follow the story where it went rather than to tell it where to go. The best work is like that. It feels bizarrely ego-less.”

What she discovered along the way was that the very obviousness, the naiveté, the fable-like simplicity of their silly, out-sized metaphor gave direct access to feelings.

“It led me straight to the emotional jugular.” She laughs.

“Three blurry weeks later I had seventy-five pages or so to give to Tim. We decided to forget about songs and to trust the power of the emotions.”

Then, the screenplay, by way of Tim’s wizardry, became a movie and now the story of Edward Scissorhands has surfaced again – this time to be told through the genius of Matthew Bourne.

Caroline Thompson Edward Scissorhands

Matthew Bourne’s Adaptation of Edward Scissorhands

“Matthew is Edward’s perfect conduit. His is a brilliant wit. He thrives on whimsy – one gets to laugh while watching a Matthew ballet. And not just a little, but to laugh a lot.” Caroline smiles.

The New Adventures company are world-renowned for not only their dancers’ technicality but their alertness to their feelings and awareness of what’s happening in the tale.

The story drives Director and Choreographer Matthew Bourne’s productions, yet he can capture the deepest emotion with the tiniest gesture. He plays with rhythm and movement in a unique way and captures the story of Edward Scissorhands using a hauntingly beautiful score based on the original motion picture compositions by Danny Elfman with new music and arrangements created by Terry Davies.

Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake and Nutcracker! remain two of the most amazing pieces of theatre Caroline has ever seen. Watching them for the first time, she shares of how she perched on the edge of the seat, still as stone, gaping in awe.

“I had the same experience the first time I watched Matthew’s fun and tender interpretation of Edward Scissorhands. And now, nearly twenty years later, we all get to watch the magic again! I am forever thrilled and beyond grateful to have been one of the catalysts behind this beautiful ballet.”

Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures are a firm favourite with Newcastle Theatre Royal audiences, having dazzled with renowned productions including Sleeping Beauty and Nutcracker! in recent years.

Can Edward find his place in the well-meaning community which struggles to see past his curious appearance to the innocence and gentleness within?

Edward Scissorhands plays Newcastle Theatre Royal Wed 27 March – Sat 6 April. Tickets are available here or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.