is a branch of theatre
in which the performer uses no voice but acts out the performance using only motion, body language
and gesture. It is usually, but not always done, in white face. See also mime
In the UK, pantomime (or panto) has come to mean a non-silent form of theatre, incorporating song, dance, buffoonery, and satire, traditionally performed at Christmas, with audiences consisting mainly of children. Pantomimes tend to be loosely based on traditional children's stories, and there is only a small number of basic themes and titles, the most popular being:
The form has a number of conventions, which include:
- The leading male character (the "principal boy") is played by a young woman.
- An older woman (the "dame") is played by a man in drag.
- There is a great deal of audience participation, including calls of "he's behind you", and "oh yes it is" or "oh no it isn't".
Their cast tends to include low-level celebrities, such as actors from soap operas or sportsmen past their best.