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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: December ::
Re: Pantos
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 890.  Friday, 3 December 1993.
 
From:           Michael Dobson <U63495%
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Date:           Thursday, 02 Dec 93 21:31:13 CST
Subject: 4.0884  Q: Pantomime
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0884  Q: Pantomime
 
In response to Denis Knowles' seasonal interest in Pantomime, I would suggest
that in fact this is indeed a Shaksper concern, since this last survival of the
Renaissance transvestite theatre tradition is descended from the Restoration
version of *The Tempest.* (I suggested this briefly in an article in the 1991
Shakespeare Survey, no.43, and nobody has bothered to contradict me yet).
Despite having had my theatregoing psyche formed by this genre, I cannot
recommend its current manifestations to Mr Knowles' students -- nowadays Pantos
are usually played by casts of non-acting TV celebrities, supplemented by
interminable routines by the local children's ballet school. The form is in any
case even more unsuited to video than most theatre, depending on the audience's
willingness to shout "Behind you!" and "Oh, yes he is!" in response to crass
mugging from behind the footlights and the faint fiction that the performer
might take some notice of it for once. One other point: Panto is amazingly
conservative, for all its cross-dressing, and hence in large measure the
scepticism with which Marjorie Garber's splendid *Vested Interests* was greeted
in Britain.
 
     Michael Dobson, UIC
 

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