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A History of Pantomime by R. J. Broadbent

Pantomimic Families Giuseppe Grimaldi James Byrne

Joseph Grimaldi


Plots of the old form of Pantomimes--A description of "Harlequin and the Ogress; or the Sleeping Beauty of the Wood," produced at Covent Garden--Grimaldi, _Pere et Fils_--Tom Ellar, the Harlequin, and Barnes, the Pantaloon--An account of the first production of the "House that Jack built," at Covent Garden--Spectacular display--Antiquity and Origin of some Pantomimic devices--Devoto, Angelo, and French, the Scenic Artists--Transparencies--Beverley--Transformation Scenes


Pantomimic Families--Giuseppe Grimaldi--James Byrne, the Harlequin and Inventor of the modern Harlequin's dress--Joseph Grimaldi, Junior--The Bologna Family--Tom Ellar--The Ridgways--The Bradburys--The Montgomerys--The Paynes--The Marshalls--Charles and Richard Stilt--Richard Flexmore--Tom Gray--The Paulos--Dubois--Arthur and Charles Leclerq--"Jimmy" Barnes--Famous Pantaloons--Miss Farren--Mrs. Siddons--Columbines--Notable Actors in Pantomime


Popular Pantomime subjects--Poor Pantomime Librettos--Pantomime subjects of our progenitors--The various versions of "Aladdin"--"The Babes in the Wood"--"Blue Beard"--"Beauty and the Beast"--"Cinderella"--"Dick Whittington"--"The House that Jack Built"--"Jack the Giant Killer"--"Jack and the Beanstalk"--"Red Riding-Hood"--"The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood"--Unlucky subjects--"Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves"--"The Fair One with Golden Locks"--The source of "Sindbad the Sailor" and "Robinson Crusoe"


Pantomime in America


Pantomimes made more attractive--The Restrictive Policy of the Patent Houses--"Mother Goose" and "George Barnwell" at Covent Garden--Lively Audiences--"Jane Shore"--"Harlequin Pat and Harlequin Bat"--"The first speaking opening"--Extravagence in Extravaganzas--The doom of the old form of Pantomime--Its revival in a new form--A piece of pure Pantomime--Present day Mimetic Art--"_L'Enfant Prodigue_"--A retrospect--The old with the new, and conclusion


Origin of Pantomime.

From the beginning of all time there has been implanted in the human breast the Dramatic instinct full of life and of vigour, and finding undoubtedly its outlet, in the early days of civilization, if not in the Dramatic Art then in the poetry of motion with that necessary and always essential concomitant of both--Pantomime. Indeed, of the Terpsichorean Art, it has been truly observed "That deprived of the imitative principle (_i.e._, Pantomime), the strength, the mute expression, it becomes nothing but a series of cadenced steps, interesting merely as a graceful exercise." Equally so in every way does it apply to the Dramatic Art, which minus its acting, its gestures--in a word, its Pantomime--we have nothing but, to quote Hamlet, "Words, words, words."

In observing "That all the world's a stage, and the men and women merely players," Shakespeare doubtless included in the generic term "players," Pantomimists as well: Inasmuch as this, that when, and wherever a character is portrayed, or represented, be it in real life or on the stage--"Nature's looking-glass," and the world in miniature--the words that the individual or the character speaks, are accompanied with gesture and motion, or, in other words, Pantomime, when "The action is suited to the word, the word to the action."

To trace the original origin of Pantomime, or Mimicry, we must go to Nature herself where we can find this practised by her from the beginning of all time as freely, and as fully, as ever it was, or ever will be, upon the stages of our theatres. What better evidence, or instances, of this can we have than in those studies of her handiwork? as the larger species of caterpillars, when, by stretching themselves out in imitation of, and to make their foes think that they are snakes; tigers and lions choosing a background in keeping with, and in imitation of, the colours of their bodies, in order to seize their unwary prey; and for the same purpose crocodiles imitating a rotting log; the green tint of the lizard's skin for the sake of concealment; the playful imitativeness of the mocking bird; the hysterical laugh of the hyaena; the gaudy colours of tropical snakes imitated by others, besides many other examples of Mimicry, in such as butterflies of the species _Danaidae_ and _Acraediae_, the _Heliconidiae_ of tropical America; and hornets, wasps, ants, and bees. All this, it may be urged, is only instinct. True; but is it not also Mimicry--the Pantomime of Nature, and, though, of course, of a different kind, and for very different objects, is, nevertheless, of a kind of instinctive Pantomime or Mimicry which each and every one of us possesses in greater or lesser degrees, and as much as we do the Dramatic instinct.

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