Pantomime (theatre)

From ArticleWorld

Pantomime is a form of theatrical performance that developed in Ireland, Australia and Great Britain. Also known as Panto, it was performed during the Christmas-New Year holiday season, being highly popular among the possible audience.

The beginning

Pantomime has its roots in “La Commedia Dell'Arte”. It was a form of street entertainment that began in Italy and reached Great Britain in the 16th century. During the Restoration period in England pantomimes developed as a low form of opera. The main difference with Commedia Dell'Arte stood in the lack of Harlequin. It is later introduced with the name of Lun by John Rich in 1717. Since then Pantomimes began to be very popular by including several elements of theatre instead of just providing the audience with hilarious situations. By the end of the 19th century this form of entertainment died because of the fall in popularity.

Present time

Nowadays the pantomime is a form of theatre that rose again in Britain. This is because of the creation of a combination that took elements of singing, dancing, sexual innuendo, satire and buffoonery. Being usually performed during Christmas it developed into plays that are linked with children entertainment. Topics that are used include:

  • Aladdin
  • Snow White
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • Puss in Boots
  • Cinderella and several more.


Because of the turn pantomime took when compared to the original purpose of the performance and topics used we can notice conventions that are accepted in all shows. Examples can be:

  • A young woman plays the lead main character
  • A man dressed in women's clothes plays the pantomime dame
  • The audience is taken into consideration with several endings provided based on the people's reactions
  • Animals being played by two actors (one the back and one the tail) and several others.