Hurray! The silly season of saucy dames and thigh-slapping high jinks is almost upon us! The Stage Door is currently in rehearsals for our Pantomime ‘SLEEPING BEAUTY’, ready for performances on December 13th – 15th at The Turner Centre, so we thought we’d look at where the pantomime comes from, and what makes a good panto.
Where does the name come from?
The term Pantomime comes from ‘Pantomimos’ – an Ancient Greek name for entertainment by a solo actor who performed all the roles. ‘Panto’ means ‘All’ and ‘Mimos’ means ‘Actor’. The modern form of the Pantomime, however, comes from 16th century Italian street theatre ‘Commedia dell’arte’ which had a fixed set of recognisable characters.
What makes a good Pantomime?
As with the Commedia dell’arte, there are conventions that many Pantomimes follow. Here are a few of them…
- The main young man in the play (the principal boy) may be played by a young woman, and usually in tight-fitting male clothes (such as breeches).
- An older woman (the pantomime dame – often the hero’s mother) is usually played by a man dressed as a woman, accompanied by some very flamboyant outfits!
- Often the children do not understand some of the jokes in Pantomimes. They are cheeky ones just for the grownups!
- The audience are encouraged to take part. For example, they call “look behind you!”, and “Oh, yes it is!” or “Oh, no it isn’t!” The audience is always encouraged to “Boo” the villain, and “Awwwww” the poor victims.
- It is panto custom that the goodie always enters from stage right, and the baddie from stage left, a tradition that’s evolved from superstition of right signifying Heaven, and left all things Hell, witchy and wicked.
- There is usually a messy scene, involving water, slime, bubbles or custard pies
- Pantomimes are a lot of fun for the audience, and for the performers. They are traditionally performed around Christmas time to spread some festive cheer and get everyone in the mood for the holiday period.
And, if all that has whet your appetite, we invite you to come and join us!
13th-15th December | The Turner Centre | Click here for tickets