In this essay I will delve deep into the history of pantomime, I will find out if pantomime is still as popular today and if so why? I will explain if the idea of a traditional pantomime is still strictly true in 2017. The purpose of this essay will be so that I get a better understanding of this theatre genre.
It can be seen that = more academic style of writing
Pantomime has always engrossed me, I have enjoyed many pantomimes over the years. As a child it was always one of my favourite things to do. What is pantomime? Well from my own understanding, pantomime is a theatrical entertainment, mainly for children but adults still thoroughly enjoy, there are normally some naughty jokes for the adults. Most pantomimes will include music and comedy based on deliberately clumsy actions and humorously embarrassing events also known as Slapstick comedy. The story is normally based on a famous fairy tale or nursery story. Pantomimes are normally produced around Christmas, most traditional pantomimes are similar and include most of the things I have listed, in an average production. However in this essay I will try to explain if this idea of pantomime is still strictly true in 2017.
I would like to think if someone came to watch a British pantomime from another country they would find it rather strange, here’s why. The typical pantomime consists of audience participation. The audience are encouraged to boo the villain whenever he/she enters the stage. There is always a Dame, the Dame is a male dressed as a beautiful lady…. A dam in distress and the handsome prince charming who normally saves the day from the villain. There are lots of other peculiar characters but these are the ones that appear most frequently.
The audience when participation normally argue with the villain or the Dame. An arugment between the Dame and the audience might be the instructions to turn around ” He’s Behind You” and the reply of course “Oh No He’s Not”. Where as an evil queen for example might be talking about how fair she is “I am the fairest of them all” the audience will reply with “Oh no you’re not!” queen “Oh yes I am” and it goes on and on. The end of a pantomime sees the villain defeated and true love is victorious, very sweet.
Firstly, I will talk about what defines pantomime, what makes pantomime different? Well I would like to argue that pantomime is different to any other type of theatrical entertainment, here’s why. The costume, only in pantomime would you see such a vast range of frocks, they really brighten up the stage. Characters, the humours and outrageous slapstick characters are really like no other, I think Panto is the only noticed theatrical entertainment that with opposite gender roles… . . Script, people don’t go to any other show and are expecting to shout back at the characters on stage. Recreation of stories, pantomime is brilliant for taking well known stories such as Cinderella, Mother Goss and Puss in boots, and adapting the storyline to make it into a comical Panto. Everything I have listed makes pantomime unique, but I think what makes it stand out from any other type of drama out there is the history.
Throughout the history of Pantomime, it has developed more than anyone anticipated. The English didn’t just come up with the idea. While doing my research I found out that it developed, the idea was influenced by an Italian tradition of theatre called Commedia dell’arte. Pantomime also developed through Harlequinade and Music hall.
What is Commedia dell’arte and how did it influence pantomime. When researching the history of pantomime I didn’t have much of a understanding of pantomime, the website Fraction of Fools gives me understanding that ‘Commedia dell’Arte began in Italy in the early 16th Century and quickly spread throughout Europe, creating a lasting influence on Shakespeare, Molière, opera, vaudeville, contemporary musical theatre, sit-coms, and improv comedy. The legacy of Commedia includes the first incorporated (i.e. professional) theatre company, the first European actresses, and many of the themes and storylines still enjoyed by audiences today.’ By using the website Fraction of Fools I got the understanding of what Commedia dell’arte is and the understanding that Commedia dell’arte has had influence on many theatrical forms but how did it influence Panto. Well using the website ‘The History of Pantomime’ I sourced the meaning of the word Pantomime it means ‘“all kinds” of “mime” (panto-mime).’