Robert Leach, Former Reader in Drama and Theatre at the University of Birmingham, provides an overview of British pantomime. Leach explores the form’s dramatic development, from the use of Commedia inspired characters and Harlequinade to the introduction of the Dame, and highlights how pantomime raises questions of gender, social stability and the problem of illusion and reality in theatre.
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Comedy is, by its nature, highly contextual, it must constantly adapt to changes in the cultural milieu in which it works. Comedy also relies on newness and surprise more heavily than other art forms – some jokes just aren’t funny after the first or second time one hears them. As a result, new forms and styles emerge constantly, just as older forms fall out of favour and are abandoned.
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