Part of an English Christmas is going to the theatre to see a pantomime. Practise your reading and learn about this Christmas tradition.
Pantomimes take place in theatres from around November to February. They are for the whole family to enjoy together. The stories are mostly based on famous fairy tales or folk tales, such as Cinderella, Snow White and Aladdin. There are often new characters and story elements which are added, plus a great deal of comedy.
The main male character, such as the prince in Cinderella, is usually played by a woman. There is also a pantomime dame. This is an older female character, such as the wicked stepmother, who is played by a man dressed in over-the-top women's clothes. The dame provides a lot of the comedy.
An important part of pantomime is audience participation. There may be songs which the audience can join with. Children are often invited onto the stage to talk to the dame. The audience is encouraged to boo the villain and cheer the good guys.
Sometimes the villain creeps up behind a character and the audience shouts out "He's behind you!" The character turns round slowly and the villain stays behind him. The character then says, "Oh no he isn't!" and the audience replies, "Oh yes he is!" This can be repeated for some time!
Other common features of pantomimes are famous actors and celebrities in the lead roles, slapstick comedy and naughty jokes for the adults which the children are too young to understand!
Before I was an English teacher, I worked in a primary school for a few years. The teachers and parents put on a pantomime and I was Cinderella for three nights!
theatre = a place where you can watch a play, ballet or musical performed live
pantomime = a family performance of a story as described above
over-the-top = ridiculous, crazy
participation = joining in
villain = the bad guy
boo = to shout "boo" in disapproval
cheer = to shout "hurray" etc
slapstick = physical comedy like slipping on a banana skin
I found this video on YouTube which explains a little more about pantomime:
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