The history of this enduring and peculiarly British institution is discussed, from its origins in 16th century Italian commedia dell’arte through the influence of 19th century music hall, to the family shows that are still much loved today. On the way we examine the origins of some of the stories used in pantomime as well as such traditions as the (female) principal boy and the (male) pantomime dame. The talk is interspersed with personal anecdotes from the speaker’s years of working (and appearing) professionally in pantomime.
Ian Gledhill has had a very varied career, from designing underground railways as an engineer for London Transport, to appearing in pantomime with Julian Clary. He has worked in the theatre as actor, director, set designer, stage manager and opera translator. He lectures extensively, drawing on his many interests which include architecture, history, transport and classical music, especially opera and operetta.