Look out! They're behind you!: The strange children's entertainment that is British panto

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Look out! They're behind you!: The strange children's entertainment that is British panto

Post  eddie on Sat Dec 24, 2011 11:38 pm



Performance conventions

The form has a number of conventions, some of which have changed or weakened a little over the years, and by no means all of which are obligatory. Some of these conventions were once common to other genres of popular theatre such as melodrama.

The leading male juvenile character (the principal boy) - is traditionally played by a young woman, usually in tight-fitting male garments (such as breeches) that make her female charms evident.

An older woman (the pantomime dame - often the hero's mother) is usually played by a man in drag.

Risqué double entendre, often wringing innuendo out of perfectly innocent phrases. This is, in theory, over the heads of the children in the audience.

Audience participation, including calls of "He's behind you!" (or "Look behind you!"), and "Oh, yes it is!" and "Oh, no it isn't!" The audience is always encouraged to boo the villain and "awwwww" the poor victims, such as the rejected dame, who usually fancies the prince.

Music may be original but is more likely to combine well-known tunes with re-written lyrics. At least one "audience participation" song is traditional: one half of the audience may be challenged to sing 'their' chorus louder than the other half.

The animal, played by an actor in 'animal skin' or animal costume. It is often a pantomime horse or cow, played by two actors in a single costume, one as the head and front legs, the other as the body and back legs.

The good fairy enters from stage right (from the audience's point of view this is on the left) and the villain enters from stage left (right from the point of view of the audience). This convention goes back to the medieval mystery plays, where the right side of the stage symbolised Heaven and the left side symbolised Hell.

Sometimes the story villain will squirt members of the audience with water guns or pretend to throw a bucket of 'water' at the audience that is actually full of streamers.

A slapstick comedy routine may be performed, often a decorating or baking scene, with humour based on throwing messy substances. Until the 20th century, British pantomimes often concluded with a harlequinade, a free-standing entertainment of slapstick. Nowadays the slapstick is more or less incorporated into the main body of the show.

In the 19th century, until the 1880s, pantomimes typically included a transformation scene in which a Fairy Queen magically transformed the pantomime characters into the characters of the harlequinade, who then performed the harlequinade.

The Chorus, who can be considered extras on-stage, and often appear in multiple scenes (but as different characters) and who perform a variety of songs and dances throughout the show. Due to their multiple roles they may have as much stage-time as the lead characters themselves.

(Wikipedia)

eddie
The Gap Minder

Posts : 7840
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 61
Location : Desert Island

Back to top Go down

Re: Look out! They're behind you!: The strange children's entertainment that is British panto

Post  eddie on Sat Dec 24, 2011 11:44 pm


A pantomime horse.

eddie
The Gap Minder

Posts : 7840
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 61
Location : Desert Island

Back to top Go down

Re: Look out! They're behind you!: The strange children's entertainment that is British panto

Post  eddie on Sat Dec 24, 2011 11:46 pm


Vesta Tilley as a principal boy.

eddie
The Gap Minder

Posts : 7840
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 61
Location : Desert Island

Back to top Go down

Re: Look out! They're behind you!: The strange children's entertainment that is British panto

Post  eddie on Sat Dec 24, 2011 11:48 pm


Euan McIver as a pantomime dame.

eddie
The Gap Minder

Posts : 7840
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 61
Location : Desert Island

Back to top Go down

Re: Look out! They're behind you!: The strange children's entertainment that is British panto

Post  eddie on Sat Dec 24, 2011 11:55 pm

This is about as bad as it gets:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9Ki-Jxpk6c
Cinderella 2010- The Transformation scene.

eddie
The Gap Minder

Posts : 7840
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 61
Location : Desert Island

Back to top Go down

Re: Look out! They're behind you!: The strange children's entertainment that is British panto

Post  eddie on Tue Dec 27, 2011 5:50 am

A blast from the past: a review of a production of Aladdin staged during the WWII Blitz on London:
**************************************************************************************************************
From the archive, 24 December 1940: 'Aladdin' – only pantomime in the West End

Originally published in the Guardian on 24 December 1940

guardian.co.uk, Friday 23 December 2011 21.00 GMT


Aladdin poster ca. 1935. Photograph: Unknown/Swim Ink/CORBIS

LONDON, MONDAY

There is an unexpected dearth of new songs, but none of the expected dearth of splendour in the West End of London's only pantomime, Francis Laidler's "Aladdin" at the Coliseum. We looked for makeshift settings, compensated by much tuneful wit and topicality. Instead we were delightedly fobbed off with a positively pre-last-war excess of bewitching scenery and costume and blessedly granted a bare minimum of contemporary references. The Widow Twankey did, it is true, join the Chinese Waacs for a single scene that hardly interrupted the tenor of the story. Wishee-Washee for a few moments looked after Peking's balloon barrage. Some incidental monster was described as being as big as Goring, and something else declared as black as the black-out. But, these half-ashamed asides apart, the pantomime's course is traditional, cheerful, and highly decorative.

The one striking departure from tradition is that the Widow Twankey is played not by a red-nosed comedian but by a grotesque comedienne. Miss Iris Sadler in this part grows on one as the long afternoon goes on.

It is, as it should be in war-time, the story's magic which matters. Any child taken to the Coliseum this year will at once clamour for "The Arabian Nights," in which he can find so good a tale. Flamingos prance among the nenuphars of the magic lake. Half-naked Nubians wear plumes on their heads as green as green bananas. The Emperor of China is half as tall again as Gilbert's Mikado and twice as mild, and sixteen Tiller Girls give us plenty of the best kind of co-ordinated rhythm. A.D.

[...and an historically interesting review of the Olivier/Oberon Wuthering Heights [see thread in Literature section]:


The Odeon

To be bombed at midnight and the following afternoon to return in spirit to the sedate world of Jane Austen is to experience strange contrast. Nothing more sedative for the time and place can be thought of than the showing of "Pride and Prejudice" at the Odeon. It is delicately and sweetly done. One had rather wondered what the film could do with that story so charming yet so lacking in cellulose incident. But it is all here. Mr. Laurence Olivier's D'Arcy is the book interpreted by the spoken voice, for one never took that gentleman so sternly as he read in print. He a trifle strained the imagination, but here is the voice and its accompaniment of faint facial amusement, an artist's work. R.H.C.

eddie
The Gap Minder

Posts : 7840
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 61
Location : Desert Island

Back to top Go down

Re: Look out! They're behind you!: The strange children's entertainment that is British panto

Post  Sponsored content Today at 7:23 am


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum