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    Harlequin to Soap Star:
    300 years of English Pantomime

     

    by Alan Stockwell

     

    Report of meeting held
    on Thursday, 17th November 2011

 

At the November 2011 meeting explained the history of pantomime. It started over 300 years ago in Italy, later performed in France where political comments unnerved the establishment and the actors were subsequently forced to perform mute – hence “mime”. Declining in popularity as a result it moved to England where there was no censorship. Mr Punch was introduced in 1667. At that time puppets hitting each-other on stage was considered hilarious. By 1800 harlequin, a clown in a diamond patterned suit used a stick with which made a noise to slap characters on stage – a slap stick.

Panto (now only in the UK) has always incorporated topical comments, often performed by ageing stars and personalities. Check out the Dartford Panto cast this Christmas as nothing has changed. (Oh, yes it has!)

Report written by Polly Chandler.

Last Revised: 21-Nov-2011

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