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Theatre Costume

late 20th century (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Animal characters are a popular feature of the British Christmas pantomime. Known as the skin parts, they allow the disguised actors to indulge in comic stage business. Some animals, like the horse, do not have a specific role in a particular pantomime and can be included in any of the stories. Others, such as Puss-in-Boots, are important to the plot and are often played by actors who specialise in animal impersonation. The cow, played by two actors, one in the front half of the costume, one in the rear, is essential to the plot of Jack and the Beanstalk. Jack and his mother, the Dame, are in dire need of money and have to sell their prize possession, the cow (often called Daisy). Reluctantly, Jack sets off for market with Daisy, but meets a stranger on the way and exchanges his beloved cow for the stranger's bag of beans. His furious mother throws the beans away and an enormous beanstalk grows overnight.

The selling of Daisy gives the opportunity for a tearful sentimental parting. This costume emphasises the cow's eyes and eyelashes, which can be worked by the actor in the 'front end' to show the animal's emotions. It does not require a great knowledge of animal behaviour to play one half of a cow, but it does need good teamwork and the stamina to work in a full animal skin under hot lights.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 4 parts.
(Some alternative part names are also shown below)
  • Theatre Costume
  • Pantomime Costume
  • Theatre Costume
  • Pantomime Costume
  • Theatre Costume
  • Pantomime Costume
  • Theatre Costume
  • Pantomime Costume
Brief Description
Costume for a pantomime cow, late 20th century.
Dimensions
  • Body and legs as boxed weight: 6.9kg
Object history
Costume for a pantomime cow in an unidentified production.
Subject depicted
Summary
Animal characters are a popular feature of the British Christmas pantomime. Known as the skin parts, they allow the disguised actors to indulge in comic stage business. Some animals, like the horse, do not have a specific role in a particular pantomime and can be included in any of the stories. Others, such as Puss-in-Boots, are important to the plot and are often played by actors who specialise in animal impersonation. The cow, played by two actors, one in the front half of the costume, one in the rear, is essential to the plot of Jack and the Beanstalk. Jack and his mother, the Dame, are in dire need of money and have to sell their prize possession, the cow (often called Daisy). Reluctantly, Jack sets off for market with Daisy, but meets a stranger on the way and exchanges his beloved cow for the stranger's bag of beans. His furious mother throws the beans away and an enormous beanstalk grows overnight.



The selling of Daisy gives the opportunity for a tearful sentimental parting. This costume emphasises the cow's eyes and eyelashes, which can be worked by the actor in the 'front end' to show the animal's emotions. It does not require a great knowledge of animal behaviour to play one half of a cow, but it does need good teamwork and the stamina to work in a full animal skin under hot lights.
Collection
Accession Number
S.483&A to C-1990

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record createdMay 14, 2004
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