“It’s Behind You!” – Pan and Pantomime

Hi everyone

I hope that you enjoyed the Yuletide season and catching up with your families and friends, enjoying some reflection time on the year which has almost passed –  where has the time gone?

It’s been  Pantomime season too hasn’t it , and  to me it seems that the Panto season is starting earlier and earlier and closing later and later –  or is it me? I love Pantomime and I love the audience participation, and the bewildered looks on the children’s faces, as the adult members of the audience raucously laugh their heads off at the innuendoes and adult humour being delivered by the players.

The children are thinking ‘D’oh what’s funny about that?’

The special effects, costumes, make-up and staging just  so imaginative, the colours and lighting, atmosphere, mood, music and song, fabulous!

I love the glitter and razzmatazz of it all and the sense of unknowing for the cast as they don’t really know what is going to happen or what is going to be said when they invite children up on stage to participate in the pantomime, sheer mayhem and confusion sometimes. You can almost hear the parents’ gasps of breath as their little cherub is taken by the hand up on stage by a cast member, perhaps it is the first time their little angel has even ‘tread the boards’ as it were…sheer magic for everyone I think.

Pantomine is an age-old tradition and almost goes hand in hand with the Yuletide season. Even if you don’t go to the theatre, you cannot miss the adverts, special prices for tickets, starring so and so from blah, blah blah etc. You just cannot escape it and the theatres certainly advertise well in advance the ticket sales to ensure bums on seats.  Surely there must be nothing worse than being in Pantomime for weeks on end if you didn’t have a full-house to play too. So here’s to the marketing and sales teams who get the bums on seats, all front-of-house staff, the team behind the scenes, and of course to the hardworking players who deliver, deliver and deliver.

What does Pantomime mean though ? The English Oxford Dictionaries define it as:

A theatrical entertainment, mainly for children, which involves music, topical jokes, and slapstick comedy and is based on a fairy tale or nursery story, usually produced around Christmas  

An absurdly exaggerated piece of behaviour

 A dramatic entertainment, originating in Roman mime, in which performers express meaning through gestures accompanied by music.

As for the origins of the word ‘Pantomine’ it is said that it was used :-

Late 16th century (first used in the Latin form and denoting an actor using mime): from French pantomime or Latin pantomimus, from Greek pantomimos imitator of all (see panto-, mime).

The Greek word ‘pantomimos’ the imitator of all, reminds me of the god Pan , in that  is associated with woods, fertility, groves, wooded glens and rustic music. W we can see his presence in the symbolism of some Fairy Tales which are turned into Pantomimes. For example when you see the visuals of the woods, forests and fields which are backdrops and settings to some pantos. Then of course there is the word ‘panic’ which comes from Pan’s scream , which we can see in action for example, when the ‘villain’ in the pantomime causes panic and mayhem causing the characters and audience to scream , boo and hiss and of course screams of ‘behind you’ . Then of course there is the production of Peter Pan the boy who never grew up!

You would be hard pushed not to spot the pagan symbols and associations of Wicca and witchcraft in many pantos too. Just have  a think about it ; spells, magic wands, witches and hags, moon and stars, cauldrons, mistletoe, transformation and healing, the list really is endless.

What of the writers thought of those great Fairy Tales which are so prominent still in our culture  (watch out the astrology is coming now !).

Some examples here

Hans Christian Anderson was a pioneering Aries

The Grimm Brothers : Wilhelm was an imaginative Pisces and his brother Jacob Ludwig was a hardworking Capricorn (he did the editing for the brother’s Fairy Tales.)

There was a significant contribution from Germany and its Fairy Tale writers which have remained prevalent in British culture especially at Yuletide

“Oh no it hasn’t”

“Oh yes it has”

Bye for now

Speak Again Soon!





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