The Pantomime reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
(provided by Fixed Reference: snapshots of Wikipedia from wikipedia.org)

Pantomime

See the real Africa
Pantomime is a branch of theatre in which the performer uses no voice but acts out the performance using only motion, body language and gesture. It is usually, but not always done, in white face. See also mime.


In the UK, pantomime (or panto) has come to mean a non-silent form of theatre, incorporating song, dance, buffoonery, and satire, traditionally performed at Christmas, with audiences consisting mainly of children. Their cast often includes celebrities, e.g. Sir Ian McKellen playing 'Widow Twantkey' this Christmas (2004) in Aladdin.

Pantomimes tend to be loosely based on traditional children's stories, and there is only a small number of basic themes and titles, the most popular being:

The form has a number of conventions, which include:

In both style and content, modern Panto has very clear and strong links with Commedia dell'arte - a form of popular theatre arising in the early middle ages in Italy and reaching England by 16th century. Shakespeare would have been very familiar with its forms and conventions.