Christmas Pantomime

pantomime titles

Learn About Pantomime Characters and Plays

The origin of the pantomime is from ancient Greece. The name originated from a dancer who was always masked, Pantomimus.

Pantomime Superstitions and Traditions You Should Know About:

The comedy and drama surrounding the modern pantomime events are similar to the Commedia de’l'Arte which has its origin in Italy during the middle ages. It was not until the 17th century that the play reached England. This is when characters were incorporated into English plays. This means that when reviewing the history of the annual pantomime is a complicated affair which is full of traditions and superstitions that have evolved over time.

The First Pantomime - How It Was Acted:

There was a famous actor named Joseph Grimaldi who starred in the first British pantomime and made the characters consistent, before this time the characters varied, depending on the actual pantomime. These plays were mainly found in London. Joseph’s role was little Clown in the famous first pants play called “The Triumph Of Mirth” or “Harlequins Wedding” in 1781. In most cases, the cast of actors comprised of people who knew each other. There was also plotting characters like Columbina and her true love Harlequin. Other main characters involved the father who was over-protective, Pantaloon; whom refused to allow his daughter Columbina to be loved by Harlequin. In some known versions, Pantaloon was a servant Punchinello (Joseph Grimaldi), who later was known as Clown. The characters varied depending on the performing group. It was until Grimaldi came into action that he made sure that the characters of the play remain the same all through, irrespective of who was acting. And these are the same characters who are found in today’s Pantomime.

The Pantomime and Christmas:

It was during the reign of Queen Victoria in the 19th Century that the English Pantomime started being associated with Christmas traditions. It was played as a treat for the children during Christmas festivities. It is now played during Christmas in the form of theater with dance, songs, slapsticks, comedy, audience participation and mild sexual intimidation. The plots of the story are normally linked to some children’s stories with the common ones being:

Here are the names of pantomime titles:

  • Jack and the Beanstalk
  • Beauty and the beast
  • Aladin combined with Ali Baba and the 40 thieves
  • Dick Whittington – based on a seventeenth-century play
  • Snow white
  • Cinderella  - it is the most common one
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • Babes in the wood  - which is normally combined with Robinhood
  • Puss in boots
  • Goldilocks and the Three Bears
  • Peter Pan
  • Mother Goose

The Traditions About The Pantomime Plays:

The leading juvenile male is always played by a woman. In olden days, ladies used to cover their legs with garments down to their ankles as it was an opportunity for them to display their sexy legs and make men get obsessed with the Panto. The audience participation is very high with a lot of shouts from the crowd as the play goes on.

The cast members always throw out sweets to the children in the audience and normally ask ordinary members to come over onto the stage. During this audience participation, the cast changes into different costumes. The fairy always enters from the right side of the stage while the villain always enters from the left, which originates from the Commedia dell’Arte where the right side symbolizes Heaven while the left side symbolizes Hell. Share this article with friends so they can learn all about the origins of the Panto.

By Florance Saul
Dec 27, 2016