Thu, Jan 04, 2018 - Page 14 News List

The news in ‘panto’

Writers are increasingly incorporating current events and modern values into the British performance art form, which has traditionally drawn from fairy tales

AFP, London

As well established as the pantomime horse — played by two actors inside a furry costume — the pantomime sees a male actor take on a lead female role. While men and boys have played female parts for centuries in Britain, largely due to societal restrictions placed on women, Hart believes that continuing to bend the gender norms can help children become more open-minded as they grow up.

“What it allows them to do is to break down those barriers that may form later on in life and the questions they may ask. Because a lot of children don’t question it,” he said.

But beyond the celebrated traditions on stage, the key to a successful panto is the audience.

“It’s different to normal theater, because normal theater is like watching a TV boxset but it’s live,” said Aisha Jawando, who plays Cinderella at Hackney Empire. “Panto is very inclusive. We want to hear people making noise,” she added.

Hart agreed, rolling off a list of pantomime essentials including a good script and a great dame.

“The last thing is an audience that is willing to have a good time. There’s no point coming to a panto expecting to just sit there and watch it, it’s a waste!”

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