65 Facts About Pantomime To Get You Hooked On These Shows | Kidadl


65 Facts About Pantomime To Get You Hooked On These Shows

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Read these Tokyo facts to learn all about the Japanese capital.

The first pantomime to be produced on an Engish stage is believed to be Tavern Bilkers.

The Mummer play was one of the English traditional folk plays popular during the Middle ages. People enjoyed stage fights and coarse humor in this contemporary pantomime.

Pantomime is a musical comedy stage play made for family entertainment. Originated in England, the panto was performed during Christmas and New year, across Ireland and the United Kingdom, and in other English-speaking countries.

Today's pantomime has dancing, songs, comedy, gags, and slapstick. It engages gender-crossing actors, combing topical comedy and a story usually based on children's stories, nursery rhymes, popular folklore, fairy tales, or fables. The panto holds a long theatrical history that dates back to the classical theater in Western culture.

Facts About Pantomime

Today, the modern pantomime is performed during Christmas, traditionally. Christmas pantomimes are not just for children but also adults. There are both songs and dialogues in the modern pantomime. A few times, even the audience joined in (audience participation).

  • The theatrical form, pantomime, is enjoyed even today by different generations.
  • People enjoy pantomime on stage during the New year and Christmas season.
  • Traditional pantomimes include Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Snow-White, Peter Pan, and Sleeping Beauty.
  • The leading role in the panto, a charismatic rogue or hero played by a woman in a man's clothes, is called a principal boy.
  • The evil character in a panto play always enters the stage from the left, whereas a good fairy or an angel enters from the right.
  • Usually, the mother of the protagonist, played by a man in drag, is called a panto dame.
  • A young girl plays the protagonist's interest and is called a principal girl.
  • Fairy and villain are usually played by either a man or woman.
  • Pantomime is performed in many places across the world today, including South Africa, Canada, Switzerland, Jamaica, and Ireland.
  • Craig Ferguson, a Scottish comedian, summarized the contemporary pantomime as fairy tales and classic folklore retold as comedy musicals.
  • Pantomime, today, is highly successful in York, and over 55,000 people come out to watch a pantomime show led by Berwick Kaler at the York Theatre.
  • Today panto shows run only for around two hours and does not go longer than two and half hours.
  • It is believed that the 'Beauty and the Beast' of the Drury Lane production ran for five hours in 1900.
  • The first appearance of Aladdin as a pantomime was seen in 1788 on Boxing Day at Covent Garden.
  • Around the '50s and '60s, the female principal boys saw a decline as male actors took over this role.
  • The modern pantomime has routines, plot devices, and characters that were developed many years ago.

Pantomime's History

The origins of silent art pantomime lies in the 16th-century Italian amusement called 'Commedia dell Arte' that employed acrobatics, tumbling, music, and dance with playful stock characters. One of the early pantomimes, Harlequin, a quick-witted wrongdoer, dressed in patched clothes, wore a mask and carried a bat. This character was the star of pantomime in the 18th century and was played by John Rich.

  • Harlequinade encouraged the pantomime traditions of transformation, speed, chases, and slapstick.
  • The term pantomime comes from the 'pantomimus' of Latin. This was derived from two Greek elements, 'panto-' means 'all' and 'mimos' means solo dancer acting all story or all roles.
  • The Roman pantomime was highly popular between the fifth century BC and the sixth century AD. Its subject matters were Roman legends and myths.
  • Dury Lane's Theatre Royal and Inn Fields Theatre of Lincoln used classical stories for their pantomime performance in the 18th-century.
  • Although Roman pantomime greatly influenced Roman culture, it only received modern scholarly attention in the late 20th-century.
  • Roman pantomime played tales like Dido and Aeneas and Venus and Mars.
  • The Mummers play was loosely based on the legend of Saint George and the Dragon and was performed around the Christmas period.
  • The harlequinade became important in the 1800s and eventually became an important and extended part of pantomime entertainment.
  • Around 1836, pantomime entertainment saw a decline. Henry James Byron and James Planche were writers who elevated the popularity and importance of the fairy-tale part of the pantomime.
  • In 1939, at the Lyceum Theatre, the last harlequinade was performed.
  • Pantomimes featured a large cast, brilliant costumes, and clever stage tricks by the 19th-century.
  • The use of spoken words was restricted due to theater licensing until 1843.
  • Spoken pantomime performances were restricted in other places except for London until 1843, when Parliament lifted the restrictions.
  • Pantomime gradually became more comical and topical, usually with elaborate and spectacular theatrical effects.
  • Henriette Hnedel-Schute cultivated scenes that performers posed for photographers or painters became known as 'living pictures.'
The first pantomime dame traces back to Golden Egg


(Traditionally, panto is a theater form, but it is understood as miming outside Britain. )

Different Types Of Pantomime

Numerous pantomime types occur around the United Kingdom per year, from small village halls to London Palladium. Types of pantomimes are large-scale commercial, midscale commercial, regional in-house productions, and fringe pantomimes.

  • Large-scale pantos played for big audiences, with huge special effects and star casting.
  • Some large regional houses that play pantomime are Southampton Mayflower, Bristol Hippodrome, and Newcastle Theatre Royal.
  • The world's largest pantomime producer, Qdos, has produced a lot of large-scale pantos every year since 2017 after merging with First Film Entertainment.
  • Although many producers previously built large-scale productions, it does not run for a long-term period.
  • Midscale commercial pantos run small-scale venues by producers on a touring network.
  • Regional in-house productions do not have star castings but cater to several people who return every year to watch shows.
  • One in-house example is director and writer Andrew Pollard, who has long retained the Greenwich Theatre.
  • Fringe theaters are the ones that produce their pantomime performances, usually seen in London, England.
  • Pantos are often produced for charity. For example, West End venues annually produce designer panto.
  • Intransitive action pantomime is a panto that uses body parts; however, it is devoted to intransitive actions.
  • Thinking, swimming, and walking are examples of Intransitive action.
  • When a panto performs from the viewpoint of a character, it is called an imaginary object.
  • Imagery object type is an empty-hand gesture that takes the shape of invisible objects.
  • Body part as the object is the type where a body part of the mimer embodies a thing through body substitution, for example, cutting hair or holding binoculars.
  • Tracing is a form that uses all or just a part of the hand to trace the outline of the shape of an object.
  • Pointing or deixis is a gesture of the pointer either drawing attention to an object or commanding an action.

Famous Pantomime Actors

Gender switching devices became the backbone of Victorian pantomime. Around early 1837, Lucy Eliza Vestris, actor-manager, played the role of breeches in 'Puss in Boots,' the production of Planche at the Olympic theater. When women wore long skirts to cover their legs, acting in tights and shorts was considered immodest.

  • The first pantomime dame traces back to Golden Egg, Mother Goose, or Harlequin that were performed in Covent Garden's Theatre Royal on 29 December 1806.
  • Many celebrities have played celebrity roles like Debbie McGee and Christopher Biggins, who received 'Lifetime Achievement Awards'awarded by the Great British Pantomime Awards.
  • Augustus Harris, the owner of Entrepreneurial theater, brought female performers like Marie Lloyd and Vesta Tilley to play principal boys.
  • This female principal boy aspect of pantomime started getting accepted by the 19th-century.
  • Throughout history, males have had women's roles because females were restricted to performing on stage until 1660.
  • As early as 1806, Samuel Simmons played the part of Mother goose; however, the apparent masculinity of the panto dame stayed a part of the gag.
  • H. J. Byron created the Widow Twankey character in 'The Wonderful Scamp; or 'Aladdin' in 1861 at Strand Theatre, with James Rogers as the widow ('Twankay Tea').
  • Harris is also credited for the legendary panto dame when he got Dan Leno and the Music Hall star to play in 'Babes in the Wood' as the wicked aunt in 1888 at Drury Lane.
  • Dan Leno played the wicked aunt in 'Babes in the Wood' for about 15 years or, as he stated, 'for the term of my natural life.'
  • Music Hall artists were continuously cast for pantomime performances from the 1860s.
  • Some stars in the panto would pause the performance to show their talent, like singing a trademark song, dancing the Can-Can, or playing the saxophone.
  • In the Victorian pantomime, animals were typical panto performers, and clowns moved around on donkeys.
  • Some actors were hired to play animals and would dress in animal costumes called skins.
  • Charles Lauri Jr., an acrobat and actor, was a famous animal impersonator called 'Garrick of Animal Mimes' during the Victorian era.
  • Charles Lauri Jr. went on to play as kangaroo, ostrich, wolf, bear, monkey, including Babes in the Wood as 'The Pug Dog and ' Puss in Boots as Puss.'
  • A 19th-century practice or a pantomime tradition is to get celebrity stars.
  • By the end of the 18th century, the modern clown came into the picture. Joseph Grimaldi was the famous clown of urban life.

<p>With a background in Aeronautical Engineering and practical experience in various technical areas, Arpitha is a valuable member of the Kidadl content writing team. She did her Bachelor's degree in Engineering, specializing in Aeronautical Engineering, at Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology in 2020. Arpitha has honed her skills through her work with leading companies in Bangalore, where she contributed to several noteworthy projects, including the development of high-performance aircraft using morphing technology and the analysis of crack propagation using Abaqus XFEM.</p>

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