History Of Pantomimes

The customs traditions and history of pantomime with pantomime trivia:

History Of Pantomimes

The word pantomime comes from the Greek words Pan which means all and Mimos which is translated as imitator.

The early Greek pantomime performance involved one actor dancing and acting whilst another actor spoke the lines.

During the 16th and 17th century in Italy there were improvised comic stage drama which was called the Commedia dell'arte from which our panto performances evolved.

Pantomimes are often abbreviated to panto or pantos. They evolved in the UK from early Middle Age performances and are now popular at Christmas and the New Year. Earlier pantos would have had harlequins and clowns.

Traditions And Customs of Christmas Panto

Audience participation is the greatest custom and tradition in pantos and helps create a great evening or matinee performance. Commonly it involves clapping, stamping of feet and shouting catchphrases to the stage, such as It's behind you, booing and hissing each time when the villain steps onto the stage and a shouting match between cast and audience shouting louder oh yes it is or oh no it isn't.

Each panto performance needs a villain or baddies for the audience to boo at, a hero (usually a Prince) to adore, a heroine with lovely long legs for the dads to enjoy looking at and some comedy actors or actresses to play bungling parts such as the ugly sisters.

The pantomime Dame is usually played by a male actor in drag costume. Characters include Widow Twankey.

The principal male part is usually played by a female.

There has to be a song and dance involving the cast as well as a slapstick chase.

Double entendre jokes and innuendos need to be subtle enough for the children but smutty enough for the adults.

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Some performances have a pantomime horse or cow with two actors in the costume.

Some theatres will have guest celebrities such as comedy double acts, comediennes, film actors, TV soap stars, musicians and local people who have appeared in reality television stars from programmes such as Big Brother.

Common Pantomime Performances

Most major cities and towns in the UK and other English speaking countries such as America and Canada host pantomimes and these are commonly:

Jack and the Beanstalk
Babes In The Woods
Robin Hood
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Sleeping Beauty
Dick Whittington
Peter Pan
Mother Goose
Puss in Boots
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Robinson Crusoe
The Wizard of Oz

More Xmas trivia questions.

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