Pantomime, that quintessentially British oddity that we all seem to love or loathe. We have all been to a pantomime at some point in our lives ,be it in a huge grand theatre with dazzling props and big name celebrities taking a leading role or a village hall affair where the local am dram group regale with a bizarre mix of fairy tale, dance, jokes and songs, But how did it become part of our Christmas tradition?
The story of pantomime has its roots in ancient Greece, travels through Italy and France, before settling itself into Britain The word derives from the Greek word pantomimos which consists of panto, which means ‘all’ and mimos which means ‘actor’ – meaning a performer who acts all the roles in a story.
Photoç @mrdue40 via Twenty20
It is perhaps best recognised from the Italian street theatre of the Commedia dell’arte during the 16th Century, with comedic timing, stock characters and great physicality.
These improvised performances took place outside in Italian streets and marketplaces. And were hugely popular
Distinctive masks meant characters were easily recognisable and allowed actors to make topical and risqué jokes without fear of being recognised.
Travelling from place to place to earn their living, these actors began to take commedia across Europe and into England giving inspiration to playwrights such as Shakespeare and Moliere.
Commedia plots would tell tales of overthrowing masters. Their lives are a constant struggle to find food and money. They tell a story about survival against the odds. Survival in the face of cruelty and corruption.From these stories pantomime developed filled with heroes and villains featuring men dressed as women, and women masquerading as young men. Pantomime is a tale of good and evil, where hope triumphs over all adversity and wrongs are righted.
John Rich was known as the ‘father of pantomime’ because he was the first to realise the potential of the Commedia characters. Although rough and uneducated he was a talented dancer, acrobat and mime artist and during the 1720s he created a new type of play involving a storyline from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and a harlequinade. This took the form of an energetic chase, featuring the adventures of Harlequin and Columbine.
These stories were hugely popular and thousands of people from aristocrats to apprentices, were drawn to see them. Theatre was the place where everyone came to be entertained.
In 1837 Lucy Eliza Vestris played a ‘breeches’ role in Planché’s production of Puss in Boots at the Olympic Theatre, at a time when women covered their legs being seen in shorts and tights was considered highly risqué. By the late 19th-century the female principal boy was an accepted convention of pantomime.
By the late 19th century extravagant productions in London theatres could last up to five hours and featured astonishing stage tricks, swonderful costumes and huge casts. It became customary for pantomimes to open on Boxing Day, forever linking this entertainment with Christmas and family entertainment.
Its unique and bawdy elements are now a very British tradition and
Christmas, for many of us, would not be Christmas without pantomime; and pantomime is possibly where many of us we first discovered the magic of theatre.
A new Harry Potter theme park will open in Tokyo
It’s called Toshimaen the amusement park that has closed this summer to make place for a new Harry Potter theme park that will open in 2023. The Toshimaen park had been opened since 1924 and this is a major change in its long history.
From what we can gather it will be probably similar to the Warner Bros one in London. According to the press release you will be able to explore the iconic movie sets that were actually designed and built by the creators of the Harry Potter series. You will see the original costumes and props and you will be able to immerse yourself in many scenes of the films. It is not expected to be a traditional theme park with rides, but more like an Harry Potter experience.
Not everyone will want to travel all the way to Japan to see this new theme park, although many serious and committed Potterheads might.
Pollock’s Toy Museum in London, for people who love toys
A real dive into the past, a museum that does not call itself as a museum but not even a shop. It is located in an old house and in the rooms there are hundreds and hundreds of toys, dolls, dollhouses, rocking horses, trains, teddy bears and many toys from other eras.
It is obviously fascinating but also slightly creepy. The current Pollock’s Toy Museum was opened in the 1950s by Marguerite Fawdry. It was originally located near Covent Garden above Pollock’s Toy Theatres store. In fact, Benjamin Pollock was a designer and creator of children’s theatres of the 1800s.
Now since the 1970s, the museum is located near the Goodge Street subway station and normally you can visit from Monday to Saturday included from 10am to 5pm. But during the coronavirus pandemic you will have to book an appointment here to be able to visit.
Monthly subscription box for children aged 4-10yrs
Don’t you just hate those people who started a business in lockdown? And the ones who did Joe Wicks everyday? And those people whose alcohol intake stayed the same? Don’t you just hate them!?
OK, OK, I was one of them. But it wasn’t my fault! The walrus made me do it! (But for the record, I only did Joe Wicks once and I definitely increased my wine intake, so I’m not ALL bad).
David Attenborough has a film sequence in some of his recent work that shows a population of walruses who have lost so much of their natural habitat due to environmental degradation that there is only one small beach left where they can congregate on. The footage shows thousands of them all crammed onto this small beach, all on top of each other. They are so tightly packed that some are forced to move up the side of the cliff to try and get some space. Walruses aren’t made for climbing cliffs. The violent scenes of them falling off the cliffs onto the rocks below deeply affected me. Our behaviour as a species is to blame. It’s seeing things like those walruses plunging to their death that moved me to act. I couldn’t just sit and watch without doing something.
As a teacher, I see the hope and potential of the next generation and so it was to them that my attention naturally went. I have a neighbour who is a kindred spirit and magic happens when we work together. We put our heads together and as a result, The Planet Action Kit was born.
We have spent six months trialing different methods, styles and content. We have learnt a lot. We have made plenty of silly mistakes. Now we are ready.
Our Planet Action Kit is a monthly subscription box for children aged 4-10yrs. Each month we aim to inspire children to love our planet and understand what a unique and wonderful place it is. We want to help them learn how to live in a way that is more in tune with the natural world. We want to equip them to live differently to the way our generation has. Each month includes something they can ‘Plant for the Planet’. There are four activities to motivate kids to LOVE The Planet (Learn, Observe, inVolve and Enjoy).
Lockdown has been a huge challenge for us as a species – but we have shown our ability to adapt and to come together when there is an urgent need to act. We have proved that we can make big fundamental changes when we put our minds to it. The issues of climate change and environmental destruction require our urgent attention too. And so in lockdown, I’ve taken action to do something to equip the next generation to be the change that our planet so vitally needs.
See… the walrus made me do it.
“We were blown away by the box. I loved how it’s pitched, what’s in it, the design. The kids were genuinely interested and talked a lot about it afterwards”.
“We were all so impressed – concept, design, execution and level that it’s pitched – so good!”
Find out more:
Instagram – we.are.planet.people
Facebook group – Raising Kids For People and Planet
Facebook page – Planet People
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