Saturday, January 10, 2009

British Pantomime in Venice - Panto Venezia
















UPDATE February 9, 2016: I, Cat Bauer, have no association whatsoever with the group formerly known as "Pantalon Players," which now appears to be going by the name of "Panto Venezia," and apparently continues to perform in Venice at a different location after they lost the theater Auditorium Santa Margherita, the last place I performed with the group in 2008.

I have not had any association with the group since I was fired as Cinderella for writing a blog post about having been physically assaulted by John-Henry Bowden, the former chaplain of the Anglican Church here in Venice, which you can read here.

After many years, huge expense and extreme physical and emotional abuse, I won a series of legal actions, both civil and criminal, and wish to distance myself from any activities on the part of this group. As in any organization, the group contained upstanding members as well as those of questionable character, but I do not want a positive post I wrote seven years ago to be interpreted as an endorsement today.

It is an outrage that Megan H. Jones, "US Consulate Agent" was at the last fundraiser, and it is an outrage the group continues to try to impose itself on a city that does not want them here.

Here is the original post:

(Venice, Italy) Sometimes in January, a group of distinguised and sophisticated ex-pats here in Venice lose their minds and perform a bizarre form of entertainment called British pantomime, or panto for short. This is a very popular form of family entertainment in the United Kingdom, with lots of cross-dressing and hissing and booing, but many Americans have never heard of it, and confuse it with the silence of mime. Well, let's get enlightened right now!

From Wikipedia:
"The style and content of modern pantomime have very clear and strong links with the Commedia dell'arte, a form of popular theatre that arose in Italy in the Early Modern Period, and which reached England by the 16th century. A 'comedy of professional artists' travelling from province to province in Italy and then France, they improvised and told stories which told lessons to the crowd and changed the main character depending on where they were performing. ...

The leading male juvenile character (the 'principal boy') - is traditionally played by a young woman, and usually in tight-fitting male garments (such as breeches) that make her female charms evident.

An older woman (the pantomime dame - often the hero's mother) is usually played by a man in drag.

Risqué double entendre, often wringing innuendo out of perfectly innocent phrases. This is, in theory, over the heads of the children in the audience.

Audience participation, including calls of "Look behind you!" (or "He's behind you!"), and "Oh, yes it is!" and "Oh, no it isn't!" The audience is always encouraged to boo the villain and "awwwww" the poor victims, such as the rejected dame, who usually fancies the prince.

A song combining a well-known tune with re-written lyrics. The audience is encouraged to sing the song; often one half of the audience is challenged to sing 'their' chorus louder than the other half. ..."

To read the entire Wikipedia article, click here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantomime

The Pantalon Players (as we now call ourselves) first performed Aladdin many years ago inside a convent, curious nuns poking their heads in to watch the show. I was the Principal Boy back then, Aladdin the Gondolier, and I wore a gondolier's shirt and hat, but with a short skirt and heels. The genie was John Francis Phillimore, the owner of Old World Books, the rare book shop near the Ghetto, and Jonathan Fox, wearing big bloomers and speaking in falsetto, was my mother.


Then we took a long break -- several years -- and opened again with Mother Goose at the auditorium in Campo Santa Margherita. Again I was the principal boy, Robin Goodsort, a poor but kind-hearted woodcutter, this time with short shorts and Spanish leather boots.
First they tried to get me to use a real axe, but we are not allowed to have real weapons here in the Magic Kingdom, and the axe was confiscated immediately by my Venetian ex-moroso when I went out on the street. So, Howard Fitzpatrick (who owns Venice Art Tours), and is also married to the writer and director of the panto, the novelist, Laurie Graham, kindly made me the fake one that I am wielding in that image opposite Fairy Stinkweed, played by Peter Page, the jewelry desinger. The evil count was played by the Anglican Chaplain, John-Henry Bowden, and the money we raised went to help restore the roof of the Anglican Church.

Last year, we performed Dick Whittington, and I was the Good Fairy Bow Bells, which was quite a difficult part to play since one of my wings was bent. Dick Whittington is about a rat-catcher that grows up to become Lord Mayor of London, and was our greatest success.

The rats were played by local Venetian kids. The singer, Rosemary Forbes-Butler, stepped in at the last moment due to the Principal Boy's pregnancy complications, and did an amazing job as Dick Whittington him/herself. We raised almost €3,000 Euro for Care & Share Italia, a charity working with the most disadvantaged of children in southern India, and this was our great reward:


This year we are exhausted by the Financial Crisis, the Aqua Granda, and the General Tumult in the World Today, so there will be no performance:) Seriously, we planned last year not to perform this year, so we must have had a premonition. In any event, we will have a performance in 2010, and the show will be the greatest and most ambitious production ever: CINDERELLA!

We are actually planning in advance this time, and we are looking to You, Dear Readers, for your donations so we can put on a Really Good Show. If you are in Venice, there are all sorts of exciting fund raisers -- on New Year's Day there was a bacon and egg brunch, and at the raffle I won a bottle of Glenfiddich, the first bottle of Scotch I have ever owned in my life! If you are not in Venice, there are many ways you can participate from afar.

To read Laurie Graham's very clever (and better) explanation of how we came into existence, and how to contribute, please click here:


Here is an example of one star-studded cast:

MOTHER GOOSE
Written & Directed by Laurie Graham
CAST
Narrator - Jeremy Magorian
Mother Goose - Jonathan Fox
Daisy May - Judith Asher
Silly Billy - Sandra Fox
Robin Goodsort - Cat Bauer
Sir Jasper Grasper - John-Henry Bowden
Terry Bull - Frank O'Halloran
Harry Bull - Howard Fitzpatrick
Fairy Stinkwood - Peter Page
Fairy Foxglove - Noelle Rimmington
Goosey Lucy - Elaine Eliah
Attila the Hen - Elizabeth Leckie
Make-up - Liesl Odenweller
Music Director - Sidney Stires
Choreography - Ferruccio Berolo
Sets - Jane Gorlin
Stage Manager - Louise Andrew
Light & Sound - Marilyn Bowden & Tony Bird

Miss Bauer's Day Wear by Sete-Cento: http://www.sete-cento.com/
Mr. Page's costume by Leone Dooré
Ms. Eliah's plumage by Lynn Lazzarini & Christine Conway Morris
Benefits for the roof repair fund of St. George's Anglican Church, Venice

Ciao from Venice,
Cat

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