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The Christmas Pantomime

A pantomime is a traditional English entertainment at Christmas. It is meant for children, but adults enjoy it just as much. It is a very old form of entertainment, and can be traced back to 16th century Italian comedies. Harlequin is a character from these old comedies.

There have been a lot of changes over the years. Singing and dancing and all kinds of jokes have been added; but the stories which are told are still fairy tales, with a hero, a heroine, and a villian. Because they are fairy tales we do not have to ask who will win in the end! The hero always wins the beautiful princess, the fairy queen it triumphant and the demon king is defeated.

In every pantomime there are always three main characters. These are the "principal boy", the "principal girl", and the "dame". The principal boy is the hero and he is always played by a girl. The principal girl is the heroine, who always marries the principal boy in the end. The dame is a comic figure, usually the mother of the principal boy or girl and is always played by a man.

In addition, you can be sure there will always be a "good fairy" and a "bad fairy" - perhaps an ogre or a demon king.

Pantomimes are changing all the time. Every year, someone has a new idea to make them more exciting or more up-to-date. There are pantomimes on ice, with all the actors skating; pantomimes with a well-known pop singer as the principal boy or girl; or pantomimes with a famous comedian from the English theatre as the dame. But the old stories remain, side by side with the new ideas.

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