animal impersonator

Definition

Theater

  • A performer who adopts the guise of an animal. Such impersonationplays an important part in the folk rituals of many cultures, with Englishexamples including the hobby horse in the Mummers' Playand the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance. In the Greek theaterAristophanes used animal choruses in several of his works, includingThe Birds (414 BC) and The Frogs (405 BC).

    Pantomime and variety have featured various animalroles from Dick Whittington's cat to Dobbin, the two-man horse; thelatter dates back to the commedia dell'arte of the 16th century.In 1902 Charlie Chaplin and Jack Melville did the Dobbin act in apantomime presented by Fred Karno's company at the HippodromeTheatre in Stockport. In the legitimate theater, Arthur Lupino (seeLupino family) was an acclaimed animal impersonator,being chosen by Sir J. M. Barrie to play Nana, the dog, in the originalproduction of Peter Pan (1904).

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