ON OUR PANTO, AND HOW IT GOT THAT WAY


AN ENTIRELY NEW ALLEGORICAL, BEAUTIFUL, COMICAL, DIVERTING, EDUCATIONAL, FANCIFUL, GORGEOUS, HYPERBOLICAL, INTELLECTUAL, JOVIAL, KEEN, LAUGHABLE, MERRY, NOVEL, ORIGINAL, PECULIAT, QUIZZICAL, ROMANTIC, SPLENDID, TRANSCENDENT, UNOBJECTIONABLE, VOLATILE, WAGGISH, X-TRAVAGANT, YOUTHFUL, AND ZIGGZAGGY GRAND COMIC CHRISTMAS PANTOMIME! --from a 19th-century Ad for a Panto
THE BIG BAD WOLF is based on a special kind of play that first appeared in England a little before the American Revolution. This kind of play, called a Pantomime, or "Panto," is still being presented today all over England, usually around Christmas time. When we see the word "pantomime," it often means "acting something out without speaking." But not English-style Pantos. Pantos are traditional, which means some parts in them are always the same, no matter what the story. But other parts change.

What Parts of Panto Are Traditional?

First, a Panto is usually based on a fairy tale or nursery tale, or sometimes, a bunch of old stories all jumbled together. After you've seen our Panto, see if you can guess which stories it's based on. (Hint: there are 2!)

Second, a good old-fashioned English Panto has some special characters in it. These are usually grand old women who are played by men, and other characters, usually handsome heroic young men, who are played by women. The trick is to spot which woman is being played by a man and which man is being played by a woman. Our Panto is even trickier: not only will you have to be on the lookout for men playing women and women playing men, but for pigs playing both, and playing other animals too!

Third, in Pantos there are almost always animal characters. You can be sure you are seeing a Panto instead of some plain old kid's play when one of the animal characters enters with a BIG HEAD. These parts are called BIG HEAD characters, or simply HEAD PARTS.

Fourth, besides all the traditional things English people expect to see in a Panto, there are traditional things they expect to hear: namely PUNS and TONGUE TWISTERS. Puns are jokes in which one word has two meanings at the same time. Here are two puns from our show; can you find them?

Pig 2: "You should have seen him in Pygmalion…not to mention his Hamlet!"

One famous Panto tongue twister is "She sells sea shells by the sea shore." You probably know some tongue twisters yourself. Listen for the tongue twisters in THE BIG BAD WOLF.

Fifth, Pantos always have a "transformation scene." That means that someone gets changed magically into someone or something else. AND the transformation is always done to rhyming couplets. What are rhyming couplets? They are poetry in which the lines rhyme, two by two by two. Here is an example:

Let us clean our tools and hoses,
Pants and shirts and even noses …

To sum up, a Panto traditionally:
         1. Is a fairy story or nursery tale
         2. Has men who play womenand women who play men
         3. Often has animal characters who may play people
         4. Has a BIG HEAD character
         5. Has lots of puns and tongue twisters
         6. Has magical transformations with rhyming couplets

AND, English-style Pantomimes are NOT silent at all. They have lots of singing, dancing and general silliness which the audience expects to join in.

Which is why we wanted to do our very own Panto.

And why WE expect YOU to join our Panto Pigs in "The Grand March of the Swine":

         So hear the cloven hooves of Grade A pork?
         What's that charming sound? It's oink oink oink!
         Marching on in spite of platter, knife and fork,
         Oh, don't you love to see a pig cavort?