It's Panto time! (Oh no it's not!)

For good, old-fashioned and clean (mostly!) family entertainment, look no further than the traditional English Pantomime. Taking its rightful place in the illustrious history of British theatre, with roots in the both the British Musical Hall tradition and the Comedia dell’ Arte (the traveling, often masked, street performers, tumblers and dancers of the middle ages) it continues today to provide humour, spectacle, thrills and buffoonery, for adults and children alike – usually around Christmas time - and is very often their first taste of live theatre.

Audience participation (“Look behind you!!” &”Oh, no he isn’t – Oh, yes he is!!”), always brings squeals of delight - or eyes transfixed with terror! With the sumptuous stage-sets and sparkling costumes conjuring-up the exotic East or Never-Never land, the stories are always well known and much-loved tales such as Aladdin, Cinderella, Dick Whittington, Peter Pan etc. The plot in which good triumphs over evil and Love conquers all, never changes. It’s simple enough: boy meets girl, baddie spoils the fun, boy fights baddie, wins girl and everyone lives happily ever after.

I say 'simple enough' yet most non-Brits find our Panto's totally confusing! Can't imagine why....Could it be, perhaps, because the girl, dressed as a boy, has a mother, who’s really a man dressed as a woman or ‘Dame’, or because he (er, she) falls in love with a girl (who IS a girl!) with ugly sisters who are actually men, or because he has a loyal four-legged friend who is really one (or two!) people stuffed in either end of an suffocating mock animal skin?

I made the collage (above) from material and photos of many of the productions I’ve personally been involved with over the years (on both sides of the footlights!) as sometime producer, director, choreographer, costume/set-designer, scenery painter and general dogs-body (even as performer; check out the ‘Good Fairy’ with King Rat!). I hoped to capture the essence of what Pantomime is really all about and convey just how much fun it is. If you're in the UK, I hope it will tempt you to go along and support your local production. Whether in humble village hall or grand town theatre, it's a wonderful (and increasingly-rare) form of entertainment that's suitable and can be enjoyed by all members of the family together.

1 comment :

  1. I found this on the art networkso the feed will do xx I LOVE Panto !! Ohhh no I dontttttt Ohhh yes I doooo


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