Pantomime: 200 years of dressing up
Wednesday 24 December 1997
Playwright Samuel Foote, for example, cast himself as a drunken procuress in his own production of The Minor in 1760. In the earliest pantomimes, the parts of women, such as Mother Goose and Dame Shipton, were still enacted by men. Even the greatest clown of all, Joseph Grimaldi, played several female pantomime roles in the early 19th century.
Perhaps the archetypal pantomime dame, however, is the famous l9th century music hall performer, Dan Leno. This diminutive man with curiously mobile features made his theatrical debut at the age of four. By the time he was 28 he was proclaimed the most talented pantomime artist since his predecessor, Grimaldi.
Although he was often cast in masculine roles, Leno surpassed himself as a grand dame. His Widow Twanky and comic rendition of Jack's mother in Jack And The Beanstalk were brilliantly portrayed, but his greatest, most famous performance was as Mother Goose. In the trademark aproned skirt, knitted shawl, and buttoned boots, Leno created this role as we know it today.
Since pantomime began 200 years ago, the traditional dame has evolved in every conceivable way - and she remains as popular as ever.
Life & Style blogs
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
- 1 What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
- 3 The Chinese city where men have 'three girlfriends because there are so many women'
- 4 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 5 Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...
£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...
£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...
£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...