Pantomime

Pantomime (/ˈpæntəmaɪm/; informally panto)[1] is a type of musical comedy stage production designed for family entertainment. It was developed in England and is performed throughout the United Kingdom, Ireland and (to a lesser extent) in other English-speaking countries, especially during the Christmas and New Year season. Modern pantomime includes songs, gags, slapstick comedy and dancing. It employs gender-crossing actors and combines topical humour with a story more or less based on a well-known fairy tale, fable or folk tale.[2][3] It is a participatory form of theatre, in which the audience is expected to sing along with certain parts of the music and shout out phrases to the performers.

Pantomime has a long theatrical history in Western culture dating back to classical theatre. It developed partly from the 16th century commedia dell'arte tradition of Italy and other European and British stage traditions, such as 17th-century masques and music hall.[2] An important part of the pantomime, until the late 19th century, was the harlequinade.[4]

Outside Britain, the word "pantomime" is often understood to mean miming, rather than the theatrical form discussed here.[5]

WarnePantomine1890
The Christmas Pantomime colour lithograph book cover, 1890, showing the harlequinade characters

Roman pantomime

Ancient Macedonian antefix 2nd century A.D
2nd-century Macedonian theatrical sculpture, thought to represent a pantomime's mask

The word pantomime was adopted from the Latin word pantomimus,[6] which in turn derives from the Greek word παντόμιμος (pantomimos), consisting of παντο- (panto-) meaning "all", and μῖμος (mimos), meaning a dancer who acted all the roles or all the story.[7][8][9] The Roman pantomime drew upon the Greek tragedy and other Greek genres from its inception, although the art was instituted in Rome and little is known of it in pre-Roman Greece.[10][11] The English word came to be applied to the performance itself. According to a lost oration by Aelius Aristides, the pantomime was known for its erotic content and the effeminacy of its dancing;[12] Aristides's work was responded to by Libanius, in his oration "On Behalf of the Dancers", written probably around 361 AD.

Roman pantomime was a production, usually based upon myth or legend, for a solo male dancer—clad in a long silk tunic and a short mantle (pallium) that was often used as a "prop"—accompanied by a sung libretto (called the fabula saltica or "dance-story") rendered by a singer or chorus (though Lucian states that originally the pantomime himself was the singer).[13] Music was supplied by flute and the pulse of an iron-shod shoe called a scabellum. Performances might be in a private household, with minimal personnel, or else lavish theatrical productions involving a large orchestra and chorus and sometimes an ancillary actor. The dancer danced all the roles, relying on masks, stock poses and gestures and a hand-language (cheironomy) so complex and expressive that the pantomime's hands were commonly compared to an eloquent mouth.[14] Pantomime differed from mime by its more artistic nature and relative lack of farce and coarse humour,[8] though these were not absent from some productions.

Roman pantomime was immensely popular from the end of the first century BC until the end of the sixth century AD,[14] a form of entertainment that spread throughout the empire where, because of its wordless nature, it did more than any other art to foster knowledge of the myths and Roman legends that formed its subject-matter – tales such as those of the love of Venus and Mars and of Dido and Aeneas – while in Italy its chief exponents were celebrities, often the protegés of influential citizens, whose followers wore badges proclaiming their allegiance and engaged in street-fights with rival groups, while its accompanying songs became widely known. Yet, because of the limits imposed upon Roman citizens' dance, the populism of its song-texts and other factors, the art was as much despised as adored,[14] and its practitioners were usually slaves or freedmen.

Because of the low status and the disappearance of its libretti, the Roman pantomime received little modern scholarly attention until the late 20th century, despite its great influence upon Roman culture as perceived in Roman art, in statues of famous dancers, graffiti, objects and literature.[7] After the renaissance of classical culture, Roman pantomime was a decisive influence upon modern European concert dance, helping to transform ballet from a mere entertainment, a display of technical virtuosity, into the dramatic ballet d'action. It became an antecedent which, through writers and ballet-masters of the 17th and 18th centuries such as Claude-François Ménestrier (1631–1705), John Weaver (1673–1760), Jean-Georges Noverre (1727–1810) and Gasparo Angiolini (1731–1803), earned it respectability and attested to the capability of dance to render complex stories and express human emotion.[14]

Development of pantomime in Britain

In the Middle Ages, the Mummers Play was a traditional English folk play, based loosely on the Saint George and the Dragon legend, usually performed during Christmas gatherings, which contained the origin of many of the archetypal elements of the pantomime, such as stage fights, coarse humour and fantastic creatures,[15] gender role reversal, and good defeating evil.[16] Precursors of pantomime also included the masque, which grew in pomp and spectacle from the 15th to the 17th centuries.[2][17]

Commedia dell'arte and early English pantomime

Richarlequin
John Rich as Harlequin, c. 1720

The development of English pantomime was also strongly influenced by the continental commedia dell'arte, a form of popular theatre that arose in Italy in the Early Modern Period. This was a "comedy of professional artists" travelling from province to province in Italy and then France, who improvised and told comic stories that held lessons for the crowd, changing the main character depending on where they were performing. Each "scenario" used some of the same stock characters. These included the innamorati (young lovers); the vecchi (old men) such as Pantalone; and zanni (servants) such as Arlecchino, Colombina, Scaramouche and Pierrot.[2][18][19] Italian masque performances in the 17th century sometimes included the Harlequin character.[20]

In the 17th century, adaptations of the commedia characters became familiar in English entertainments.[21] From these, the standard English harlequinade developed, depicting the eloping lovers Harlequin and Columbine, pursued by the girl's father Pantaloon and his comic servants Clown and Pierrot.[21][22] In English versions, by the 18th century, Harlequin became the central figure and romantic lead.[23] The basic plot of the harlequinade remained essentially the same for more than 150 years, except that a bumbling policeman was added to the chase.[21]

In the first two decades of the 18th century, two rival London theatres, Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre and the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane (the patent theatres) presented productions that began seriously with classical stories that contained elements of opera and ballet and ended with a comic "night scene". Tavern Bilkers, by John Weaver, the dancing master at Drury Lane, is cited as the first pantomime produced on the English stage.[24] This production was not a success, and Weaver waited until 1716 to produce his next pantomimes, including The Loves of Mars and Venus – a new Entertainment in Dancing after the manner of the Antient Pantomimes.[18] The same year he produced a pantomime on the subject of Perseus and Andromeda. After this, pantomime was regular feature at Drury Lane.[25] In 1717 at Lincoln's Inn, actor and manager John Rich introduced Harlequin into the theatres' pantomimes under the name of "Lun" (for "lunatic").[26][27] He gained great popularity for his pantomimes, especially beginning with his 1724 production of The Necromancer; or, History of Dr. Faustus.[28]

These early pantomimes were silent, or "dumb show", performances consisting of only dancing and gestures. Spoken drama was allowed in London only in the two (later three) patent theatres until Parliament changed this restriction in 1843.[29] A large number of French performers played in London following the suppression of unlicensed theatres in Paris.[18] Although this constraint was only temporary, English pantomimes remained primarily visual for some decades before dialogue was introduced. An 18th-century author wrote of David Garrick: "He formed a kind of harlequinade, very different from that which is seen at the Opéra-Comique in Paris, where harlequin and all the characters speak."[30] The majority of these early pantomimes were re-tellings of a story from ancient Greek or Roman literature, with a break between the two acts during which the harlequinade's zany comic business was performed. The theatre historian David Mayer explains the use of the "batte" or slapstick and the transformation scene that led to the harlequinade:

Rich gave his Harlequin the power to create stage magic in league with offstage craftsmen who operated trick scenery. Armed with a magic sword or bat (actually a slapstick), Rich's Harlequin treated his weapon as a wand, striking the scenery to sustain the illusion of changing the setting from one locale to another. Objects, too, were transformed by Harlequin's magic bat.[18]

Pantomime 1803
Playbill of an English circus and pantomime performance, 1803

Pantomime gradually became more topical and comic, often involving spectacular and elaborate theatrical effects as far as possible. Colley Cibber, David Garrick and others competed with Rich and produced their own pantomimes, and pantomime continued to grow in popularity.[31]

1806–1836

By the early 1800s, the pantomime's classical stories were often supplanted by stories adapted from European fairy tales, fables, folk tales, classic English literature or nursery rhymes.[18][32] Also, the harlequinade grew in importance until it often was the longest and most important part of the entertainment. Pantomimes usually had dual titles that gave an often humorous idea of both the pantomime story and the harlequinade. "Harlequin and ________", or "Harlequin _______; or, the ________". In the second case, harlequin was used as an adjective, followed by words that described the pantomime "opening", for example: Harlequin Cock Robin and Jenny Wren; or, Fortunatus and the Water of Life, the Three Bears, the Three Gifts, the Three Wishes, and the Little Man who Woo'd the Little Maid. Harlequin was the first word (or the first word after the "or") because Harlequin was initially the most important character. The titles continued to include the word Harlequin even after the first decade of the 1800s, when Joseph Grimaldi came to dominate London pantomime and made the character, Clown, a colourful agent of chaos, as important in the entertainment as Harlequin. At the same time, Harlequin began to be portrayed in a more romantic and stylised way.[33]

Grimaldi's performances elevated the role by "acute observation upon the foibles and absurdities of society, and his happy talent of holding them up to ridicule. He is the finest practical satyrist that ever existed. ... He was so extravagantly natural, that the most saturnine looker-on acknowledged his sway; and neither the wise, the proud, or the fair, the young nor the old, were ashamed to laugh till tears coursed down their cheeks at Joe and his comicalities."[34] Grimaldi's performances were important in expanding the importance of the harlequinade until it dominated the pantomime entertainment.[35]

By the 1800s, therefore, children went to the theatre around the Christmas and New Year holiday (and often at Easter or other times) primarily to witness the craziness of the harlequinade chase scene. It was the most exciting part of the "panto", because it was fast-paced and included spectacular scenic magic as well as slapstick comedy, dancing and acrobatics. The presence of slapstick in this part of the show evolved from the characters found in Italian commedia dell'arte.[18] The plot of the harlequinade was relatively simple; the star-crossed lovers, Harlequin and Columbine, run away from Columbine's foolish father, Pantaloon, who is being slowed down in his pursuit of them by his servant, Clown, and by a bumbling policeman. After the time of Grimaldi, Clown became the principal schemer trying to thwart the lovers, and Pantaloon was merely his assistant.[35]

The opening "fairy story" was often blended with a story about a love triangle: a "cross-grained" old father who owns a business and whose pretty daughter is pursued by two suitors. The one she loves is poor but worthy, while the father prefers the other, a wealthy fop. Another character is a servant in the father's establishment. Just as the daughter is to be forcibly wed to the fop, or just as she was about to elope with her lover, the good fairy arrives.[34] This was followed by what was often the most spectacular part of the production, the magical transformation scene.[36] In early pantomimes, Harlequin possessed magical powers that he used to help himself and his love interest escape. He would tap his wooden sword (a derivative of the Commedia dell'arte slapstick or "batte") on the floor or scenery to make a grand transition of the world around him take place. The scene would switch from being inside some house or castle to, generally speaking, the streets of the town with storefronts as the backdrop. The transformation sequence was presided over by a Fairy Queen or Fairy Godmother character.[18] The good fairy magically transformed the leads from the opening fairy story into their new identities as the harlequinade characters. Following is an example of the speech that the fairy would give during this transformation:

Lovers stand forth. With you we shall begin.
You will be fair Columbine – you Harlequin.
King Jamie there, the bonnie Scottish loon,
Will be a famous cheild for Pantaloon.
Though Guy Fawkes now is saved from rocks and axe,
I think he should pay the powder-tax.
His guyish plots blown up – nay, do not frown;
You've always been a guy – now be a Clown.[36]

Dan Leno and Herbert Campbell
Dan Leno and Herbert Campbell in Babes in the Wood, 1897, at the Drury Lane Theatre

This passage is from a pantomime adaptation of the Guy Fawkes story. The fairy creates the characters of the harlequinade in the most typical fashion of simply telling the characters what they will change into. The principal male and female characters from the beginning plotline, often both played by young women,[29] became the lovers Columbine and Harlequin, the mother or father of Columbine became Pantaloon, and the servant or other comic character became Clown. They would transition into the new characters as the scenery around them changed and would proceed in the "zany fun" section of the performance.[36] From the time of Grimaldi, Clown would see the transformed setting and cry: "Here We Are Again!"[35] The harlequinade began with various chase scenes, in which Harlequin and Columbine manage to escape from the clutches of Clown and Pantaloon, despite the acrobatic leaps of the former through windows, atop ladders, often because of well-meaning but misguided actions of the policeman. Eventually, there was a "dark scene", such as a cave or forest, in which the lovers were caught, and Harlequin's magic wand was seized from his grasp by Clown, who would flourish it in triumph. The good fairy would then reappear, and once the father agreed to the marriage of the young lovers, she would transport the whole company to a grand final scene.[34]

1837 to the end of the harlequinade

Despite its visible decline by 1836, the pantomime still fought to stay alive.[37] After 1843, when theatres other than the original patent theatres were permitted to perform spoken dialogue, the importance of the silent harlequinade began to decrease, while the importance of the fairy-tale part of the pantomime increased.[32] Two writers who helped to elevate the importance and popularity of the fairy-tale portion of the pantomime were James Planché and Henry James Byron. They emphasized puns and humorous word play, a tradition that continues in pantomime today.[32] As manager of Drury Lane in the 1870s, Augustus Harris wrote a series of extraordinarily popular pantomimes, focusing on the spectacle of the productions, that pushed this transition by emphasizing comic business in the pantomime opening and grand processionals.[38] By the end of the 19th century, the harlequinade had become merely a brief epilogue to the pantomime, dwindling into a brief display of dancing and acrobatics.[39] It lingered for a few decades longer but finally disappeared, although a few of its comic elements had been incorporated into the pantomime stories.[23] The last harlequinade was played at the Lyceum Theatre in 1939.[40]

Modern pantomime traditions and conventions

Traditionally performed at Christmas and afterwards, with family audiences, British pantomime continues as a popular form of theatre, incorporating song, dance, buffoonery, slapstick, cross-dressing, in-jokes, topical references, audience participation, and mild sexual innuendo.[41]

Traditional stories

Pantomime story lines and scripts usually make no direct reference to Christmas, and are almost always based on traditional children's stories, particularly the fairy tales of Charles Perrault, Joseph Jacobs, Hans Christian Andersen and the Grimm Brothers. Some of the most popular pantomime stories include Cinderella, Aladdin, Dick Whittington and His Cat and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,[4] as well as Jack and the Beanstalk, Peter Pan, Puss in Boots and Sleeping Beauty.[42] Other traditional stories include Mother Goose, Beauty and the Beast, Robinson Crusoe, The Wizard of Oz, Babes in the Wood (combined with elements of Robin Hood), Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Sinbad, St. George and the Dragon, Bluebeard, The Little Mermaid and Thumbelina.[27][43] Prior to about 1870, many other stories were made into pantomimes.[32][44]

While the familiarity of the audience with the original children's story is generally assumed, plot lines are almost always adapted for comic or satirical effect, and characters and situations from other stories are often interpolated into the plot. For instance "panto" versions of Aladdin may include elements from Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves or other Arabian Nights tales; while Jack and the Beanstalk might include references to nursery rhymes and other children's stories involving characters called "Jack", such as Jack and Jill. Certain familiar scenes tend to recur, regardless of plot relevance, and highly unlikely resolution of the plot is common. Straight retellings of the original stories are rare.[45]

Performance conventions

The form has a number of conventions, some of which have changed or weakened a little over the years, and by no means all of which are obligatory. Some of these conventions were once common to other genres of popular theatre such as melodrama.[46]

  • The leading male juvenile character (the principal boy) is traditionally played by a young woman in male garments (such as breeches). Her romantic partner is usually the principal girl, a female ingénue.
  • An older woman (the pantomime dame – often the hero's mother) is usually played by a man in drag.[47]
  • Risqué double entendre, often wringing innuendo out of perfectly innocent phrases. This is, in theory, over the heads of the children in the audience and is for the entertainment of the adults.
  • Audience participation, including calls of "He's behind you!" (or "Look behind you!"), and "Oh, yes it is!" and "Oh, no it isn't!" The audience is always encouraged to hiss the villain and "awwwww" the poor victims, such as the rejected dame, who is usually enamoured with one of the male characters.[48]
  • Music may be original but is more likely to combine well-known tunes with re-written lyrics. At least one "audience participation" song is traditional: one half of the audience may be challenged to sing "their" chorus louder than the other half. Children in the audience may even be invited on stage to sing along with members of the cast.
  • The animal, played by an actor in "animal skin" or animal costume. It is often a pantomime horse or cow (though could even be a camel if appropriate to the setting), played by two actors in a single costume, one as the head and front legs, the other as the body and back legs.
  • The good fairy enters from stage right (from the audience's point of view this is on the left) and the villain enters from stage left (right from the point of view of the audience). This convention goes back to the medieval mystery plays, where the right side of the stage symbolised Heaven and the left side symbolised Hell.
  • A slapstick comedy routine may be performed, often a decorating or baking scene, with humour based on throwing messy substances. Until the 20th century, British pantomimes often concluded with a harlequinade, a free-standing entertainment of slapstick. Since then, the slapstick has been incorporated into the main body of the show.
  • In the 19th century, until the 1880s, pantomimes typically included a transformation scene in which a Fairy Queen magically transformed the pantomime characters into the characters of the harlequinade, who then performed the harlequinade.[39][47]
  • The Chorus, who can be considered extras on-stage, and often appear in multiple scenes (but as different characters) and who perform a variety of songs and dances throughout the show. Because of their multiple roles, they may have as much stage-time as the lead characters themselves.
  • At some point during the performance, characters including the Dame and the comic will sit on a bench and sing a cheerful song to forget their fears. The thing they fear, often a ghost, appears behind them, but at first the characters ignore the audience's warnings of danger. The characters soon circle the bench, followed by the ghost, as the audience cries "It's behind you!" One by one, the characters see the ghost and run off, until at last the Dame and the ghost come face to face, whereupon the ghost, frightened by the visage of the Dame, runs away.[48]

Guest celebrities

Another contemporary pantomime tradition is the celebrity guest star, a practice that dates back to the late 19th century, when Augustus Harris, proprietor of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, hired well-known variety artists for his pantomimes.

Many modern pantomimes use popular artists to promote the pantomime, and the play is often adapted to allow the star to showcase their well-known act, even when such a spot has little relation to the plot. As critic Michael Billington has explained, if the star enters into the spirit of the entertainment, he or she can add to its overall effect, while if it becomes a "showcase for a star" who "stands outside the action", the celebrity's presence can detract, notwithstanding the marketing advantage that the star brings to the piece.[49] Billington said that Ian McKellen in a 2004 Aladdin "lets down his hair and lifts up his skirt to reveal a nifty pair of legs and an appetite for double entendre: when told by decorators that 'your front porch could do with a good lick', McKellen adopts a suitable look of mock-outrage. ... At least we can tell our grandchildren that we saw McKellen's Twankey and it was huge."[49]

Pantomime roles

Major roles

The main roles within pantomime are usually as follows:[50]

Role Role description Played by
Principal Boy Main character in the pantomime, a hero or charismatic rogue Traditionally a young woman in men's clothing
Panto Dame Normally the hero's mother Traditionally a middle-aged man in drag
Principal Girl Normally the hero's love interest Young woman
Comic Lead or Good Fairy Does physical comedy and relates to children in the audience. Sometimes plays an animal. Man or woman
Villain The pantomime antagonist. Often a wicked wizard, witch or demon. Man or woman

Minor roles

Role Role description Played by
Good fairy or Wise woman Usual role is to help (traditionally silly) hero defeat (much more intelligent) villain. Often has a role in the resolution of the plot Woman (or Man in drag)
Animals, etc. e.g. Jack's cow "Pantomime horse" or puppet(s)
Chorus Members often have several minor roles
Dancers Usually a group of young boys and girls

Places performed

Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret starring in wartime Aladdin, 1943. (7936243828)
Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret in a Windsor Castle wartime performance of Aladdin

Pantomime is performed in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Bermuda, Australasia, Canada, Zimbabwe, Jamaica, South Africa, India, Gibraltar, and Malta, mostly during the Christmas and New Year season.[51][52]

United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland

Many theatres in cities and towns throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland continue to have an annual professional pantomime. Pantomime is also very popular with amateur dramatics societies throughout the UK and Ireland, and the pantomime season (roughly speaking, late November to February) will see pantomime productions in many village halls and similar venues across the country.

Australia

Pantomimes in Australia at Christmas were once very popular, but the genre has declined greatly since the middle of the 20th century. Several later professional productions did not recover their costs.[53]

Canada

Christmas pantomimes are performed yearly at the Hudson Village Theatre in Quebec.[54] Since 1996, Ross Petty Productions has staged pantomimes at Toronto's Elgin Theatre each Christmas season.[55] Pantomimes imported from England were produced at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in the 1980s.[56][57] The White Rock Players Club in White Rock, BC have presented an annual pantomime in the Christmas season since 1954.[58] The Royal Canadian Theatre Company produces pantomimes in British Columbia, written by Ellie King.[59]

Malta

Pantomime was imported for a British expatriate audience and later adapted by Maltese producers for Maltese audiences. While in many former territories of the British empire, pantomime declined in popularity after independence, as it was seen as a symbol of colonial rule, studies have shown that this genre remains strong in Malta.[60]

Jamaica

The National Pantomime of Jamaica was started in 1941 by educators Henry Fowler and Greta Fowler, pioneers of the Little Theatre Movement in Jamaica. Among the first players was Louise Bennett-Coverley. Other notable players have included Oliver Samuels, Charles Hyatt, Willard White, Rita Marley and Dawn Penn. The annual pantomime opens on Boxing Day at the Little Theatre in Kingston and is strongly influenced by aspects of Jamaican culture, folklore and history.[61][62]

United States

Lady Duff Gordon styles sketched by Marguerite Martyn, 1918
Styles of Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon, used in a vaudeville circuit pantomime; sketched by Marguerite Martyn of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 1918

Pantomime has seldom been performed in the United States, although a few productions have been mounted in recent years. As a consequence, Americans commonly understand the word "pantomime" to refer to the art of mime as it was practised, for example, by Marcel Marceau and Nola Rae. However, certain shows that came from the pantomime traditions, especially Peter Pan, are performed quite often, and a few American theatre companies produce traditional British-style pantomime as well as American adaptations of the form.

According to Professor Russell A. Peck of the University of Rochester, the earliest pantomime productions in the US were Cinderella pantomime productions in New York in March 1808, New York again in August 1808, Philadelphia in 1824, and Baltimore in 1839.[63] A production at Olympic Theatre in New York of Humpty Dumpty ran for at least 943 performances between 1868 and 1873,[64] (one source says 1,200 performances),[4] becoming the longest-running pantomime in history.[4]

In 1993 there was a production of Cinderella at the UCLA Freud Theatre, starring Zsa Zsa Gabor.[65] Stages Repertory Theatre in Houston, Texas, has been performing original pantomime-style musicals during the Christmas holidays since 2008.[66] Lythgoe Family Productions has produced pantomimes each winter since 2010 in California.[67]

See also

References

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  2. ^ a b c d Reid-Walsh, Jacqueline. "Pantomime", The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature, Jack Zipes (ed.), Oxford University Press (2006), ISBN 9780195146561
  3. ^ Mayer (1969), p. 6.
  4. ^ a b c d "The History of Pantomime", It's-Behind-You.com, 2002, accessed 10 February 2013
  5. ^ Webster's New World Dictionary, World Publishing Company, 2nd College Edition, 1980, p. 1027.
  6. ^ Oxford English Dictionary s.v. pantomime
  7. ^ a b Hall, p. 3.
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  9. ^ Liddell, Henry George and Robert Scott. παντόμιμος, A Greek–English Lexicon, Perseus Digital Library, accessed 16 November 2013
  10. ^ Lincoln Kirstein, Dance, Dance Horizons Incorporated, New York, 1969, pp. 40-42, 48
  11. ^ Broadbent, pp. 21–34.
  12. ^ Mesk, J., Des Aelius Aristides Rede gegen die Tänzer, WS 30 (1908)
  13. ^ Quoted in Lincoln Kirstein, Dance, Dance Horizons Incorporated, New York, 1969, p. 50.
  14. ^ a b c d Alessandra Zanobi. Ancient Pantomime and its Reception, Oxford University Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama
  15. ^ Barrow, Mandy. "Mummers' Plays", Project Britain, 2013, accessed 21 April 2016.
  16. ^ Barrow, Mandy. "Christmas Pantomimes", Project Britain, 2013, accessed 21 April 2016
  17. ^ Burden, Michael. "The English Pantomime Masque", Abstract of symposium paper for French and English Pantomime (2007), University of Oxford, accessed 21 April 2016.
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  22. ^ Smith, p. 228
  23. ^ a b Hartnoll, Phyllis and Peter Found (eds). "Harlequinade", The Concise Oxford Companion to the Theatre, Oxford Reference Online, Oxford University Press, 1996, accessed 21 October 2011. (subscription required)
  24. ^ Broadbent, chapter 14. Broadbent spends the first half of his book tracing the ancient and European origins of pantomime.
  25. ^ Broadbent, chapter 14.
  26. ^ Dircks, Phyllis T. "Rich, John (1692–1761)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edition, May 2011, accessed 21 October 2011
  27. ^ a b Chaffee and Crick, p. 278
  28. ^ Broadbent, chapter 15.
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  31. ^ Broadbent, chapters 14 and 15.
  32. ^ a b c d "The Origin of Popular Pantomime Stories", Victoria and Albert Museum, accessed January 8, 2016.
  33. ^ McConnell Stott, pp. 95–100.
  34. ^ a b c Broadbent, chapter 16
  35. ^ a b c Moody, Jane. "Grimaldi, Joseph (1778–1837)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edition, January 2008, accessed 21 October 2011.
  36. ^ a b c Wilson, p.?.
  37. ^ Mayer, p. 309.
  38. ^ Mayer, p. 324
  39. ^ a b Crowther, Andrew. "Clown and Harlequin", W. S. Gilbert Society Journal, vol. 3, issue 23, Summer 2008, pp. 710–12.
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  41. ^ Christopher, David (2002). "British Culture: An Introduction", p. 74, Routledge; and "It's Behind You", The Economist, 20 December 2014
  42. ^ Bowie-Sell, Daisy. "Top ten pantomimes for Christmas", The Daily Telegraph, 17 December 2010, accessed January 8, 2016.
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  51. ^ Roberts, Chris. Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: The Reason Behind Rhyme, Thorndike Press, 2006 (ISBN 0786285176)
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Sources

  • Broadbent, R. J. (1901). A History of Pantomime. London.
  • Chaffee, Judith and Olly Crick, The Routledge Companion to Commedia dell'Arte (Routledge, 2015) ISBN 978-0-415-74506-2
  • Hall, E. and R. Wyles, eds., New Directions in Ancient Pantomime (Oxford, 2008).
  • Lawner, Lynne (1998). Harlequin on the Moon. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
  • Mayer III, David (1969). Harlequin in His Element: The English Pantomime, 1806–1836. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-37275-1.
  • McConnell Stott, Andrew (2009). The Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi. Edinburgh: Canongate Books. ISBN 978-1-84767-295-7.
  • Richards, Jeffrey. The Golden Age of Pantomime: Slapstick, Spectacle and Subversion in Victorian England (I.B.Tauris, 2014). ISBN 1780762933
  • Smith, Winifred (1964). The Commedia dell'Arte. New York: Benjamin Blom, Inc.
  • Wilson, A. E. (1949). The Story of Pantomime. London: Home & Van Thal.

External links

Azerbaijan State Pantomime Theatre

Azerbaijan State Pantomime Theatre (Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan Dövlət Pantomim Teatrı) is a pantomime theatre in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Big Brother Panto

Big Brother Panto is a special series of Big Brother that brought together ten housemates from previous Big Brothers to produce the pantomime Cinderella. It aired from 20 December 2004 to 5 January 2005 on the Channel 4 network.

The pantomime performed, Cinderella, was written by Jonathan Harvey, who wrote the sitcom Gimme Gimme Gimme. It was performed at a theatre near to The Lodge.

Buttons (pantomime)

Buttons is the name of a character in the Cinderella pantomime, a male servant of the household who helps Cinderella and loves her, and who is liked and trusted but not loved by her. The character has sometimes been called Pedro. Buttons does not appear in the Disney films.

The character first appeared in 1860 at the Strand Theatre, London in a version of the story derived from the opera La Cenerentola by Rossini. Rossini includes a character Dandini as assistant to the Prince, which was also included, and a complementary character for Cinderella, called Buttoni was added for the pantomime at this time. 'Buttons' was at that time a name for a young male servant or pageboy commonly having gilt buttons down the front of his jacket.While the character introduces a note of pathos in his unrequited love for Cinderella it is often played as a comic role.

Christopher Biggins

Christopher Kenneth Biggins (born 16 December 1948) is an English actor and television presenter. He is best known for his role as Lukewarm in the BBC sitcom Porridge.

Harlequin

Harlequin (; Italian: Arlecchino [arlekˈkiːno], French: Arlequin [aʁləkɛ̃]) is the best-known of the zanni or comic servant characters from the Italian Commedia dell'arte. The role is traditionally believed to have been introduced by Zan Ganassa in the late 16th century, was definitively popularized by the Italian actor Tristano Martinelli in Paris in 1584–1585, and became a stock character after Martinelli's death in 1630.

The Harlequin is characterized by his chequered costume. His role is that of a light-hearted, nimble, and astute servant, often acting to thwart the plans of his master, and pursuing his own love interest, Columbina, with wit and resourcefulness, often competing with the sterner and melancholic Pierrot. He later develops into a prototype of the romantic hero. Harlequin inherits his physical agility and his trickster qualities, as well as his name, from a mischievous "devil" character in medieval passion plays.

The Harlequin character first appeared in England early in the 17th century and took centre stage in the derived genre of the Harlequinade, developed in the early 18th century by John Rich. As the Harlequinade portion of English dramatic genre pantomime developed, Harlequin was routinely paired with the character Clown. As developed by Joseph Grimaldi around 1800, Clown became the mischievous and brutish foil for the more sophisticated Harlequin, who became more of a romantic character. The most influential such in Victorian England were William Payne and his sons the Payne Brothers, the latter active during the 1860s and 1870s.

Harlequinade

Harlequinade is a British comic theatrical genre, defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "that part of a pantomime in which the harlequin and clown play the principal parts". It developed in England between the 17th and mid-19th centuries. It was originally a slapstick adaptation or variant of the Commedia dell'arte, which originated in Italy and reached its apogee there in the 16th and 17th centuries. The story of the Harlequinade revolves around a comic incident in the lives of its five main characters: Harlequin, who loves Columbine; Columbine's greedy and foolish father Pantaloon (evolved from the character Pantalone), who tries to separate the lovers in league with the mischievous Clown; and the servant, Pierrot, usually involving chaotic chase scenes with a bumbling policeman.

Originally a mime (silent) act with music and stylised dance, the harlequinade later employed some dialogue, but it remained primarily a visual spectacle. Early in its development, it achieved great popularity as the comic closing part of a longer evening of entertainment, following a more serious presentation with operatic and balletic elements. An often elaborate magical transformation scene, presided over by a fairy, connected the unrelated stories, changing the first part of the pantomime, and its characters, into the harlequinade. In the late 18th and 19th centuries, the harlequinade became the larger part of the entertainment, and the transformation scene was presented with increasingly spectacular stage effects. The harlequinade lost popularity towards the end of the 19th century and disappeared altogether in the 1930s, although Christmas pantomimes continue to be presented in Britain without the harlequinade.

Henry (comics)

Henry was a comic strip created in 1932 by Carl Thomas Anderson. The title character is a young bald boy who is mute (and sometimes drawn minus a mouth). With the exception of a few early episodes, the comic strip character communicates only through pantomime, a situation which changed when Henry moved into comic books.

The Saturday Evening Post was the first publication to feature Henry, a series which began when Anderson was 67 years old. The series of cartoons continued in that magazine for two years in various formats of single panel, multiple panels or two panels. It then moved to newspaper syndication on December 17, 1934. Anderson stopped drawing due to arthritis in 1942, and the strip continued with other artists.The daily strip went into reruns in 1995, and the Sunday strip in 2005. After 84 years of syndication, Henry was discontinued on October 28, 2018.

John Inman

Frederick John Inman (28 June 1935 – 8 March 2007) known as John Inman, was an English actor and singer best known for his role as Mr. Humphries in Are You Being Served?, a British sitcom between 1972 and 1985. He was also well known character actor in the United Kingdom as a pantomime dame.

Lyceum Theatre (Sheffield)

The Lyceum is a 1068-seat theatre in the City of Sheffield, England.

Mime artist

A mime or mime artist (from Greek μῖμος, mimos, "imitator, actor") is a person who uses mime as a theatrical medium or as a performance art. Miming involves acting out a story through body motions, without the use of speech. In earlier times, in English, such a performer would typically be referred to as a mummer. Miming is distinguished from silent comedy, in which the artist is a character in a film or skit without sound.

Jacques Copeau, strongly influenced by Commedia dell'arte and Japanese Noh theatre, used masks in the training of his actors. His pupil Étienne Decroux was highly influenced by this, started exploring and developing the possibilities of mime, and developed corporeal mime into a highly sculptural form, taking it outside the realms of naturalism. Jacques Lecoq contributed significantly to the development of mime and physical theatre with his training methods.

Mother Goose

The figure of Mother Goose is the imaginary author of a collection of French fairy tales and later of English nursery rhymes. As a character, she appeared in a song, the first stanza of which often functions now as a nursery rhyme. This, however, was dependent on a Christmas pantomime, a successor to which is still performed in the United Kingdom.

The term's appearance in English dates back to the early 18th century, when Charles Perrault’s fairy tale collection, Contes de ma Mère l'Oye, was first translated into English as Tales of My Mother Goose. Later a compilation of English nursery rhymes, titled Mother Goose's Melody, or, Sonnets for the Cradle, helped perpetuate the name both in Britain and the United States.

Pantomime dame

A pantomime dame is a traditional role in British pantomime. It is part of the theatrical tradition of travesti portrayal of female characters by male actors in drag. Dame characters are often played either in an extremely camp style, or else by men acting butch in women's clothing. They usually wear heavy make up and big hair, have exaggerated physical features, and perform in an over the top style.

Pantomime horse

A pantomime horse is a theatrical representation of a horse or other quadruped by two actors in a single costume who cooperate and synchronize their movements. One actor plays the front end, including the horse's head and its front legs, in a more-or-less upright posture and with a reasonable field of view afforded by eye holes in the horse's head. The other actor, playing the rear end of the animal, must bend at the waist so that his torso is horizontal like that of a horse and put his arms around the waist of the first actor. He can see little, although there are normally eye holes in the bottom part of the horse's torso to enable him to see where he is putting his feet and to enable him to breathe.

Pantomime horses and cows feature in Christmas pantomimes, mainly in the United Kingdom.

Principal boy

In pantomime, a principal boy role is the young male protagonist of the play, traditionally played by a young actress in boy's clothes.

The earliest example is Miss Ellington who in 1852 appeared in The Good Woman in the Wood by James Planché to the consternation of a reviewer. She was followed by other music hall and burlesque entertainers, such as Harriet Vernon described as "a magnificent creature, who was willing to show her ample figure as generously as the conventional tights and trunks of the day allowed" and thus setting the standard of good legs on display and nominally male costume which emphasized her figure.The tradition grew out of laws restricting the use of child actors in London theatre, and the responsibility carried by such lead roles. A Breeches role was also a rare opportunity for an early 20th-century actress to wear a costume revealing the legs covered only in tights, potentially increasing the size of the audience. The practice of having a female play the principal boy has become less common, as further outlets are sought for the talents of young male popular stars and actors.Although not written as a pantomime, Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up is often produced as one with the tradition of a female principal boy continuing.

Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool

The Royal Court Theatre is a theatre located at 1 Roe Street, Liverpool, England. It was built in 1938 in an Art Deco style.

The Little King

The Little King was an American gag-a-day comic strip created by Otto Soglow, telling its stories in a style using images and very few words, as in pantomime.

Tivoli (Copenhagen)

Tivoli (or often in English: Tivoli Gardens) is an amusement park and pleasure garden in Copenhagen, Denmark. The park opened on 15 August 1843 and is the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world, after Dyrehavsbakken in nearby Klampenborg, also in Denmark.

With 4.6 million visitors in 2017, Tivoli is the second-most popular seasonal amusement park in the world after Europa-Park. Tivoli is the most-visited theme park in Scandinavia, and the fifth most-visited theme park in Europe, only behind Disneyland Park, Europa-Park, Walt Disney Studios Park and Efteling.

Travesti (theatre)

Travesti (literally "disguised" in French) is a theatrical term referring to the portrayal of a character in an opera, play, or ballet by a performer of the opposite sex. Depending on sources, the term may be given as travesty, travesti, or en travesti. The Oxford Essential Dictionary of Foreign Terms in English explains the origin of the latter term as "pseudo-French", although French sources from the mid-19th century have used the term, e.g. Bibliothèque musicale du Théâtre de l'opéra (1876), La revue des deux mondes (1868), and have continued the practice into the 21st century.For social reasons, female roles were played by boys or men in many early forms of theatre, and travesti roles continued to be used in several types of context even after actresses became accepted on the stage. The popular British theatrical form of the pantomime traditionally contains a role for a "principal boy", a breeches role played by a young woman, and also one or more pantomime dames, female comic roles played by men. Similarly, in the formerly popular genre of Victorian burlesque, there were usually one or more breeches roles.

Ugly sisters

The ugly sisters are characters in the fairy tale and pantomime, Cinderella. They are the daughters of Cinderella's wicked stepmother, who treat her poorly. The "ugly sisters" have been in variations of the story from as early as researchers have been able to determine.

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