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The craftsman
Volume XXXI, Number 3 (December 1916)

Paul Clerget in Xmas pantomime: the value of his exquisite art to all America,   pp. 239-246 PDF (2.3 MB)

Page 239

Y all children, and most grown up people who
s the holiday spirit, think of a pantomime as
Low  connected with the Christmas festival.
quin, Pantaloon and Columbine seem like fairy
vho are born again for the few weeks of merry
g.and present giving. Everywhere in France
              and still in many towns in England the children's
 delight at Christmas time is in the Christmas pantomime, and there
 are fresh Pierrot plays written season after season which tell the same
 old story of the sad loves of Pierrot and the gay, heartbreaking beauty
 of Columbine. The Russian Ballet has given us this season a most
 delightful presentation of "Petrouchka," the Russian Pierrot,
 same story that was told years ago in Italy in the beginning of the
 pantomime performances, in France in the seventeenth century, and
 at Drury Lane in the beginning of the eighteenth century. Christmas
 pantomime, and the Christmas tree, and the Christ child-these are
 the thrilling romances of childhood that reappear the world over
 every year.
    Oddly enough, pantomime did not begin with the modern Pierrot
 story in Paris or London. But well back in Roman history, in the
 Augustan Age, pantomime was first presented in the open air theater,
 where it was almost impossible to hear the voice, in fact, where facial
 expression could not carry, and the whole story was told through
 the motion of the body, most of the pantomimists wearing masks.
 The most celebrated pantomimists were Bathyllus, in comedy, and
 Pylades and Hylas in tragedy. The delight of this form of enter-
 tainment continued through the Roman days down into Italy, where
 we first find Harlequin, Pantaloon and Columbine. And at this
 time the ballet and the pantomime were almost hopelessly interwoven
 as they are today in the Ballet Russe.
*   Although America has had some early pantomime stories, es-
pecially for children, such as "Humpty-Dumpty," "B luebeard,"
"Cinderella" and "Little Red Riding Hood," we have never
quite the demand in this country for the Christmas pantomime that
springs from the heart of the children in Europe every winter.
    This season, happily, we have a rare pantomime to gladden our
 hearts, which is meeting with great enthusiasm from the lovers of poetry
 and fairy lore, in the production of "L'Enfant Prodigue," with
 Clerget in the r6le of Pierrot's Father. Those of us who have seen
 pantomime in Europe, in Belgium and in France, realize that it is
 entirely a distinct art, that it is not merely gesture and facial ex-

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