Studies in the English Pantomime

Studies in the English Pantomime


Richard Semmens


Pendragon Press



A comprehensive study of English pantomime in eighteenth-century England, with the emphasis on music and dancing.
While interest in pantomime entertainments in eighteenth-century England has grown considerably over the past three decades, few studies among the many excellent ones that have appeared have paid concentrated attention to music and dancing. This book aims, among other things, to rectify that situation.

It offers five interrelated studies in which the movement and sound of pantomimes is a central concern. The first chapter contextualizes the significant contributions of the pioneering dance theorist and historian, John Weaver. It pays particular attention to his long-lived interest in comic dancing, not only as practised by the "ancients," but in his own work for the London stages, as well, as both choreographer and performer. The second study of the book offers an in depth reading of John Thurmond's Harlequin Doctor Faustus (1723) at Drury Lane theatre. A close examination of the rival production at Lincoln's Inn Fields, Lewis Theobald's Harlequin Doctor Faustus; or, The Necromancer, is the task of the third essay.

Because the two rival productions attracted enormous interest among audiences, commentators, and critics of the time, the fourth study of the book considers how disparate entertainment types-musical theatre, masquerades, and magic shows, for example-were significant elements in what the critics noticed about the Faustus pantomimes, and their unprecedented success. The final study of the book considers how a new comic pantomime by Theophilus Cibber, and a serious one by John Weaver became enmeshed at Drury Lane in 1733, and argues that the combination of these two entertainments in a single afterpiece was informed, in part, by the structure of Harlequin Doctor Faustus.

An e-book version of this title is available (9781576472934), to libraries through a number of trusted suppliers. See here for a full list of our partners.


January 2017
207 pages
9x6 in
Wendy Hilton Dance and Music
ISBN: 9781576472774
Format: Paperback
Pendragon Press
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