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Pantomime terms and techniques

Last year, the London Palladium brought us the hit Snow White holiday pantomime. This year, the West End venue is at it again for the fourth time coming with an all-new reimagining of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. In celebration of the new panto adaptation of this beloved British classic, which is set to premiere this Christmas, we've compiled a list of all the essential mime vocabulary, terms and techniques to help you better appreciate this exquisite art form.

Pantomime terms and techniques
Fresh from the Snow White panto last year, Julian Clary is set to return for the new Goldilocks pantomime at the Palladium this Christmas.

What does pantomime mean? An etymology

The word pantomime (known as panto for short) comes from the Latin word pantomimes and specifically refers to "gestures that are used to support a theme."

The word mime, however, is derived from the Greek word mimesis, which means "to imitate an activity." A mime performer was once referred to as a mummer, which comes from the Middle English word mum to mean silent.

The difference between pantomime and mime

Mime is a very common art form that can be found in busking and in street performances. Popular mimes include pretending to be trapped in an invisible box, climbing an invisible rope or ladder, pretending to lean against a wall, and fighting against strong winds. The mime in which the actor struggles against the wind is often performed using an umbrella, which turns inside out for comedic effect.

Pantomime and mime both involve similar concepts of silence, gestures and movements to create the illusion of reality. However, the purpose of a pantomime is to tell a story, whereas a mime is a much more specific, single action. Thus, a pantomime is made up of a series of mimes and normally follows a simple storyline to ensure that the audience understands what's going on. The story must also have a beginning, middle and end.

Essential pantomime and mime vocabulary

tableau is a living picture featuring one or more characters that remain in a static position. Tableaus are not only found in pantomime and mime, but are also commonly used in plays when transitioning between scenes. Often times, a scene in a play will still be taking place while characters in the background remain frozen in a tableau as they wait for the spotlight to shine on them to start the new scene.

gesture is a movement of any part of the body that helps to express an idea. An example would be pretending to unscrew a cap from a jar. When miming interaction with an object, it's important to take heed of consistency, a term that prescribes how an imaginary object must remain the same size in order to maintain the illusion.

cross is when the actor moves from one side of the stage to the other, while an illusionary walk is when the actor walks in place. The latter can be either a profile walk or pressure walk. profile walk is when the performer walks to the side in profile, whereas a pressure walk is best seen from the front or back.

Exaggerated resistance is when an actor makes an action more definite and sharper in order to create the illusion of physics, such as the tension when pulling on a rope or the struggle to lift a heavier object. Exaggerated expressions and gestures are also used to help add to the illusion of resistance. Angled eyebrows paired with an open mouth indicate surprise, whereas squinted eyes and an emphasised frown can allude to lifting heavy weights or objects.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears pantomime tickets, London beginning at just £27!

Summertime is too hot. Wintertime is too cold. But tickets for Goldilocks and the Three Bears at the London Palladium are just right! Taking your favourite characters from this beloved fairy tale and placing them in a new circus setting, the Goldilocks Christmas panto is set to razzle and bedazzle. Can Goldilocks and her mum fend off their rival circus ringmaster or will they be forced to pack up their show and hit the road? Starring pantomime veteran Julian Clary (Aladdin pantomime, Cinderella, Dick Whittington, Jack and the Beanstalk), you certainly won't want to skip this sure-fire Christmas hit. Be sure to book your tickets for the Goldilocks Palladium pantomime early to ensure the best seats at the best prices!

🎫 Book your tickets for Goldilocks and the Three Bears, showing at the London Palladium from £27.


The London Palladium's Goldilocks and the Three Bears opens on 7 December 2019 and is booking until 12 January 2020


Nicholas Ephram Ryan Daniels

Ephram is a jack of all trades and enjoys attending theatre, classical music concerts and the opera.


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