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Pantomime is Never What it Used to Be

The Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society’s Arthur and Jean Humphreys lecture
Professor Katherine Newey, BA, PhD.
Professor of Theatre History, University of Exeter

Although the nineteenth century is widely regarded as the ‘Golden Age’ of pantomime, the pantomime form was in a process of constant evolution throughout the century. Historically, pantomime is distinguished by change and its knowing self-referentiality. But there’s one constant – that Pantomime is not what it used to be. Indeed, pantomime is never what it used to be. The constant in pantomime is nostalgia, which is paradoxically paired with sensation and novelty. Victorian pantomime was the vehicle for the representation of the latest, the new, the fads, the fashions of the times.

In my lecture I’ll explore the ways in which the pantomimes we see today have their roots in the Victorian pantomime, and its melding of the Harlequinade of the classic commedia dell’arte with the robust, rude and knockabout humour of the Clown and the Dame.

Kate Newey is Professor of Theatre History at the University of Exeter. Her work focuses on women’s writing and nineteenth century British popular theatre. She has published academic books and essays on John Ruskin, Victorian women playwrights, and the politics of the pantomime. She has held research Fellowships at Harvard University, the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC, and the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Centre, University of Texas (Austin). She is currently leading a large-scale project funded by the European Research Council, ‘Women’s Transnational Theatre Networks, 1789-1914.’
7:30pm
Hansom Hall, Leicester Adult Education College, 50-54 Belvoir St, Leicester, Leicestershire LE1 6QL
Mon 2 Dec 2024

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