What is a pantomime? ‘Snow White’ explains the history behind this Christmas tradition

A London-based actor sheds light on how the genre became a holiday staple

Jenny Marc
Friday 11 December 2015 12:48 GMT
Panto explainer with Snow White

For most Brits, pantos are simply part of the Christmas tradition. The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without a pie in the face or a cross-dressing dame.

But according to John Savournin, pantomimes haven’t always been part of the Yuletide season.

“It used to be something that happened on a very seasonal basis,” he explains. “So there might be a summer panto, an Easter panto as well – always tied into some sort of religious holiday.”

This year, Savournin stars in a London panto, Mirror Mirror: A Snow White Pantomime, which he also wrote.

Similar to most pantomimes, the play is loosely based on a traditional fairy tale and encourages active audience participation. But unlike others, it’s performed by the Charles Court Opera, which adds extra musical flair.

To learn more about how pantos came to be part of today’s British Christmas tradition, check out this video.

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