Pantomime in Glasgow
Pantomime theatre or commonly called Panto is a unique, comedic and lively take on theatre usually involving crowd participation.
Developed in England, it is still performed throughout the United Kingdom, generally during the Christmas and New Year season. The performances includes songs, slapstick comedy and dancing, employs gender-crossing actors, and combines topical humour with a story loosely based on a well-known fairy tale, fable or folk tale. It is a participatory form of theatre, in which the audience is expected to sing along with certain parts of the music and shout out phrases to the performers.
Pantomime has a long history in Western culture dating back to classical theatre!
Local theatres in Glasgow include Cottiers, Clyde Auditorium, Kings Theatre and Websters and all have a Panto treat for you this Christmas.
- Kings Theatre will be playing Sleeping Beauty from the 1st December
- Websters will be playing Jackie and the Baked Bean stalk from the 30th November
- Tron Theatre will be playing Alice in Weegieland from the 1st December
- Citizens Theatre will be playing Cinderella from the 28th November
- The Pavillion will be playing The Wizard of Never Woz from the 30th November
- The Oran Mor will be playing Cinderella 2: I married a Numpty! from the 27th November
If you decide to go for a Panto have a look out for some of these “hidden” conventions always followed during the play:
- The leading male juvenile character is traditionally played by a young woman. Her romantic partner is the principal girl, a female ingenue.
- 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 and is for the entertainment of the adults.
- 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 hiss the villain and "awwwww" the poor victims, such as the rejected dame, who is usually enamoured with 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. Children in the audience may even be invited on stage to sing along with members of the cast.
- 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.
- A slapstick comedy routine may be performed, often a decorating or baking scene, with humour based on throwing messy substances.
- 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.
- At some point during the performance, characters including the Dame and the comic will sit on a bench and sing a cheerful song to forget their fears. The thing they fear appears behind them, but at first the characters ignore the audience's warnings of danger. The characters soon circle the bench, followed by the ghost, as the audience cries "It's behind you!" One by one, the characters see the ghost and run off, until at last the Dame and the ghost come face to face, whereupon the ghost, frightened by the visage of the Dame, runs away.
Have a laugh with friends and check out this funny and unique form of theatre.