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TEACHING MATERIAL: The Origins and Traditions of the British Pantomime
In Denmark, we mostly associate Pantomime with the classic, wordless performances of Harlequin, Columbine and Pierrot in Tivoli. If you are invited to a Christmas Pantomime in England, do go but don't expect a similar experience. The English pantomime is a unique theatre genre that only really exists in the United Kingdom. It is extremely popular and every year theatres are completely sold out to an audience of all ages, backgrounds and tastes.
Traditionally, adults take their children to the "Panto" as a Christmas treat but often the adults have the most fun. The mad knockabout comedy of the pantomime, where people are hit but not hurt, where authority is constantly flouted and where fun is poked at everything from past to present, has had a great influence on the well known British "crazy" humour of for instance Monty Python's Flying Circus.
The Pantomime is as English as Fish 'n' Chips and pints of lukewarm beer - and Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without it.
Feel free to download the teaching material: The Origins and Traditions of the British Pantomime
NEW ONLINE VERSION FOR SCHOOLS
Shake up your students ! Blow their minds ! Make them laugh out loud !
And do all this in one English class !
London Toast Theatre has produced a hilarious 40 minute filmed show called “SHAKIN’ UP SHAKESPEARE”. A roller coaster ride through Shakespeare’s most famous works including “Romeo and Juliet” with Andrew Jeffers and David Bateson in the leading roles, and the most famous play in the English language, “Hamlet ” with Vivienne McKee starring as the Danish prince.
“Shakin’ Up Shakespeare”, together with accompanying Teaching Material, has been tailor-made to encourage your students to appreciate the genius of William Shakespeare, the intricacies of the English language and the use of comedy in an educational context.
During the film, the actors play different roles and also chat about their own knowledge of Shakespeare’s plays :
David : I know all of the titles of Shakespeare’s plays in Danish ..
Andrew: You don’t !
David : I do. “Romeo OG Julie”, “Antony OG Cleopatra”, “Hamlet”.
And I know the titles of the comedies too … “Otello “.
Andrew: “Othello “ isn’t a comedy !
David : Well I laughed when you played it.
We learn about Shakespeare’s audiences:
Vivienne : At the GlobeTheatre, the important, aristocratic people sat at the back in the galleries, and the common people stood up close so that they wouldn’t miss anything .
Ha! Nothing much has changed ! Stop checking your phones !
Vivienne introduces the different ways of acting Shakespeare from the traditional Lawrence Olivier style to the post-modern Al Pacino method :
David : “It’s not so much post, it’s more of an email approach… I believe in punching out the poetry, slicing through the symbolism, kicking the hell out of the imagery and rubbing up against the raw animal emotion.“
And that is what he does for most of the show !
On top of all that, this fun-packed film is followed by a “live” Q&A with the 3 actors on ZOOM
Vivienne McKee, David Bateson and Andrew Jeffers are well-known for their wacky performances in the annual Crazy Christmas shows and after the film, they are happy to chat with the students online, and answer any questions. They tell the students stories about their theatrical backgrounds: including Andrew’s experience of playing Othello with a robot , Vivienne’s Stand Up comedy glitches, David’s internationally popular computer-game character, “Hitman” and of course, questions about Shakespeare and his work !
As one student commented :
"Man forstår meget nemmere de forskellige skuespil af Shakespeare nu, og at det faktisk kan være fornøjeligt at arbejde med. Ydermere var det rigtigt dejligt at møde folkene bag »Shakin` Up Shakespeare«. Det gav en forståelse af den kreative proces bag stykket - og gjorde hele oplevelsen meget mere speciel.”
Cecilie Patricia Nielsen, elev i Active English-klassen, 10. klassecenteret, Xclass i Slagelse
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