Art of pantomime
Panto mime - an art in which the actors express the essence of representation by means of gestures, mimics and plastics. The word " mime" is derived from the Greek verb, which originally meant "everything reproducing by imitation". In ancient times, by the word mimos was called folk fairground spectacle in which acrobatics was combined with dances and expressiveness of gestures. Gradually the importance of gesture in these scenes becomes more important than the dialogues.
Traditions of mimic representations originated in ancient Greece and ancient Rome. Typically, they were played by the troupes of roving actors, but at the time of the emperors mimes began performing also on the big stage, and the word " mime" has even become synonymous with the actor. Already in ancient times there were mimes (also called pantomimus), who during one performance played several roles in a row. After the destruction of Rome by the Goths came the downgrade of the ancient theater, and the art of panto mime migrated to the representation of wandering troupes. During the Middle Ages satirical scenes were played and accompanied by acrobatic numbers and during the Renaissance panto mime has influenced the development of the Italian folk improvised commedia dell' arte.
The interest to panto mime has revived in France at the turn of the XVII - XVIII centuries. Already in the last decades of the XVI century Italian actors began to appear in Paris , and the capital of France is considered the second home of commedia dell' arte. The audience were well aware of what was going on in the play, the Italian actors have been increasingly using such wordless means of creating of an artistic image, as plastic expressiveness of the human body, gesture, mime, dance and acrobatics and have become real virtuosos of panto mime.
Monopoly right to give dramatic performances, which was rendered exclusively for a few privileged theaters, which was introduced in France in the XVI century - has contributed the flourishing of this kind of art. In the XVIII century, have gone so far, that only on the stage of "Comedie Francaise" an actor was allowed to speak during the performance. In this situation, fairground theaters have developed such types of performances, wich don't break the monopoly - panto mime became one of such types. In Paris, such performances were played during the famous fairs in the outskirts of Saint-Germain and Saint-Lazare.
At the turn of the XVII - XVIII centuries a great fame has a troupe of Alard brothers - one of them, Charles, was named the greatest mime of his time. The brothers which transmuted into images of commedia dell' arte: Charles played the role of Scaramouche and Pierre played Harlequin.
Over time a primitive stage, on which artists played, has become a small scene with decorations and wooden barracks turned into theaters. But the fight for viewers between fairground Troupes and "Comedie Francaise" continued - in 1709 the conspiracy of royal actors, court officers and paid informants resulted in the arson of Fairground Theater in St. Germain.
Panto mime was the only permitted form. Something that actors were not able to express by gestures or facial expressions, they commented on the inscriptions on sheets of papers which were unfolded at the right moment on the stage. One of the most famous plays was "Harlequin, King of Serendiba" by Alan Rene Lesage, which was shown in 1713 at Saint-Germain.
John Richardson, who from 1796 to 1837 headed the theater at the St. B artholomew Fairground, was a big fan of panto mime. Each performance necessarily contained the scenes with Harlequin in the lead role. Great importance was attached for all kinds of tricks. After the death of Richardson, the tradition of fairground panto mime has gradually fall into decay.
Video: "Shadow panto mime"