Verb: to act/gesture using imaginary objects. (Mimes do it silently, but improv actors are rather noisy. Oh dear -- that sounds like a bumper sticker, doesn't it?)
Noun: In classical theater (ancient Greece and Rome) a pantomime was a comedic actor who played many different characters using very animated gestures.
Since the Middle Ages, a distinctly English theatrical genre called a "Christmas pantomime" or "panto." They are a humorous retelling of a fairy tale, traditionally performed around the December holidays.
Common traits in a panto play include:
- A principal boy (a young male character played by an actress)
- A dame (an older female character played by a male actor)
- Lots of audience participation