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Theatre / Pantomime

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A pantomime (or "panto" for short) is a British form of theatre, in which classic fairy tales are laced with slapstick comedy, cross-dressing actors and the occasional naughty joke the kids won't get. It's said to be a soup of genres, with heavy influences from Commedia dell'Arte, among a few other European types of theatre, which had the result of creating a composite genre which is traditionally played around Christmas even though the performances themselves aren't Christmas-y whatsoever.


Common source material for them include, but are not limited to: Cinderella, Snow White, Peter Pan, literally anything with a princess, and Dick Whittington, to name a few. But in general, any well-known fairy tale will do as a base.

Panto revolves around an array of conventions, so much that the audience comes already knowing what is going to happen. Because the stories are generally children's stories, Parental Bonus and Getting Crap Past the Radar are to be expected in order to be able to entertain as much audience as possible without needing to Avoid the Dreaded G Rating.

Panto will usually have a series of songs throughout the play, performed by the characters and sometimes accompanied by a chorus which sings and dances. Panto is also very fond of Audience Participation, like its inspiration. You'll usually find the audience booing the villain, feeling empathy for the rejected characters, warning the hero of incoming danger, etc.


Traditional roles in panto generally include, but are not limited to:

Many other roles can be included in this genre depending on the source of the play, among other things. Not all of the aforementioned roles are mandatory, save for the Principal Boy, the Principal Girl, the Dame and the Villain, really.

The story will always be a conflict between Good vs Evil and will have a Happy Ending no matter what with the villain being defeated and the Principal Boy successfully marrying his love interest and living with her Happily Ever After. It's possible to base a panto from a story with a Downer Ending or with unfitting roles, but it must be re-adapted and rewritten to fit the mold again. Generally everyone dances in the ending or throws pies at each other, but it's generally full of energy anyways and panto loves its slapstick humor.

The genre changed a lot if you wanted to compare it with how it was at its inception, especially due to most of the traditions having loosened significantly, but the fact it's constantly adapting to the modern times is what is helping it not fall into decay. The jokes nowadays can get slightly political, or in general referencing actual matters in the world, even though it's not abused as the audience still loves a good traditional show that is only enjoyed at a certain time of the year. Nowadays people try and cast famous people in order to draw in more audience, but generally the role of the Dame stays untouched in that matter as the role is so important and specialized that few famous people can actually play the role of the Dame successfully.


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