Rogues & Vagabonds

theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…

The History of Pantomime (Christmas History 19) | Windows into History

A book cover from 1890, virtually contemporary with Max O’Rell’s description of pantomime in England.

Yesterday’s Christmas History included a quote from John Bull and his Island, by the fabulous French author Max O’Rell, published in 1883.  In the same book he writes about Christmas pantomimes, a tradition that was relatively new at the time, at least in the form that we would understand today as a pantomime.

Strictly speaking, pantomimes date back to Greek times, but their “παντόμιμος”* had little connection with modern-day pantomimes. The Italian tradition of comedia del’arte can be identified as the root of the tradition, but the fusion of classical themes, comedy, harlequinade and fairy tales was a peculiarly British development, over the course of the 19th Century.  O’Rell was unimpressed…

Source: The History of Pantomime (Christmas History 19) | Windows into History

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