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Pantomime training for Youth Theatre Students in Cape Town

South Africa
09 September

Are drama schools important? Oh yes they are! 

Learning the techniques of pantomime is one of the many teaching tools used in the Helen O’Grady Drama Academy’s youth theatre programme for High School students. Other genres covered are include melodrama, tragedy, physical theatre, comedy including slapstick, farce and murder mystery.

y giving children a chance to experience the different theatrical styles on the stage, they gain a greater understanding than just learning about them in class. The Academy is also famous in Cape Town for developing children’s love of Shakespeare. Together students in the Academy are enriched by the drama classes and this further gives them an edge on those who are studying drama as a subject in School.

Here you can see our students from Windsor High School in Cape Town acting out a Pantomime at the Magnet Theatre. This year the students performed ‘Cinderella in Africa’ - a really fun and entertaining piece including minibus taxis and load shedding  Pantomime is a fantastic way to teach students how to activate and audience and use humour effectively. The delivery of comic lines in pantomime is crucial as is the over-the-top acting. 

This technique is often hard for students, particularly teenagers, as they don’t often like letting themselves go. However, if you don’t overact in a pantomime, then the play will fall flat. Children have to quickly learn not to be shy but put themselves forward. Being silly on stage can overcome many of our fears for public speaking and performance.

Thinking on your feet is probably the biggest technique we can teach children. The Helen O’Grady Drama Academy is famous for developing its students improvisation skills. These particularly have to be used in pantomime as sometimes the play can move forward in mysterious ways based on the audience participation.

Also most importantly the use of the body and gesture are extremely important. To engage with the audience big gesture, facial expression should be cleverly used. The pantomime dames, traditionally played by men, should be over the top and hilarious. No flat characters in this genre!

For more information about our drama programme and how we can inspire you children: 

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"Helen O’Grady Drama Academy has helped me build up my self esteem and develop both my communication and social skills. The Academy has also helped me discover a creative part of me which I did not know and also taught me to be able to fit in anywhere I find myself in the world."

- Lagos Student, Nigeria