The English Pantomime Masque

What is the relationship between the 18th-century English genres ‘masque’ and ‘pantomime’? It is a simple enough question; both forms use (or potentially use) classical characters, have some plot lines in common, and rely on spectacle of some sort for their success. Indeed, so much overlap between them is there, that the term ‘pantomime masque’ can be found used on occasion to describe some of the works in question. But like most questions of genre, the answer to the question ‘what are it’s characteristics?’ is not straightforward. Contradictions abound, and the situation is not assisted by confusions in the terminology used to describe the masque itself. This paper takes bearings from the period before 1700 and traces the interplay between the two genres until about 1740.

Michael Burden
Symposium Title: 
French and English Pantomime -2007
Author affiliation: 
University of Oxford