Roman 'Pantomime' - Printable Version

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Roman 'Pantomime' - Nathan Ross - 05-16-2017

Has anyone seen or heard of any reconstructions of Roman 'pantomime' drama, with authentic costumes and music? The only ones I've been able to find on video are in contemporary dress, like a sort of modern ballet.

Pantomime was apparently the most popular form of drama throughout the imperial era. The most concise description seems to be this one

"...pantomime consisted of a solo mute dance performance based on a tragic libretto called fabula saltica usually sung by a chorus or a soloist.  The dancer neither spoke nor sang but interpreted by his dancing a story usually based on a mythological theme. The performance was accompanied by a large orchestra made of wind and stringed instruments... Ancient authors report that a single performer danced all the roles in succession relying on gesture and hand language (cheironomy) to describe the story sung by the chorus... The dancer wore also a mask with a closed mouth, elaborate hair, and large holes for the eyes as attested by archeological findings. The large eye-holes suggest that the expression of the dancer’s eyes needed to be visible through the mask attesting to the eloquent role attached to the dancer's gaze in an otherwise mute performance."

All of which sounds a bit more like Japanese noh theatre than ballet...!