The History of Pantomime
The History of Pantomime with Leanne Walters.
Pantomime (informally panto) is a type of musical comedy stage production designed for family entertainment. It was developed in England and is still performed throughout the United Kingdom, generally during the Christmas and New Year season and, to a lesser extent, in other English-speaking countries. Modern pantomime includes songs, gags, slapstick comedy and dancing, employs gender-crossing actors and combines topical humour with a story loosely based on a well-known fairy tale, fable or folk tale. It is a participatory form of theatre, in which the audience is expected to sing along with certain parts of the music and shout out phrases to the performers.
Pantomime has a long theatrical history in Western culture dating back to classical theatre. It developed partly from the 16th century commedia dell’arte tradition of Italy and other European and British stage traditions, such as 17th-century masques and music hall. An important part of the pantomime, until the late 19th century, was the harlequinade.
Outside Britain, the word “pantomime” is usually understood to mean miming, rather than the theatrical form.