'There is Nothing like a Dame'

21st November 2000 - 6th January 2001

The Theatre Museum presents an exhibition of Pantomime Dame portraits by Judy Graham.

'There is Nothing like a Dame'

Opening and Location Details

Judy Graham

Having been a professional actress for many years working in the West End in several English farces and playing principal boy in Pantomime I wanted to honour the many talented comedian performers that I had been fortunate to work with. The actors who are "working frocks" as Pantomime Dames each Christmas represent a particular genre of British humour which I feel should be remembered and celebrated. Today’s Dames are a living link with much early pantomime performers, keeping alive the famous routines and jokes that have thrilled audiences over the centuries whilst adding their own individual new material.

For many of us Pantomime is our first theatrical experience that hopefully paves the way to a deep appreciation of the art of drama. For myself Pantomime conjures up all that is magical about the theatre: the shining gilded interior of a Victorian auditorium, the noise of the audience excitingly waiting for the curtain to rise, the overture, the lights, the costumes, the colour and here she comes….the Dame!! What fun! Our faces ache from smiling and laughing as we tumble out into the rainy night holding on to the fabulous spectacle of Pantomime.

As an actress I have been on the other side of the curtain, it is still a magical world but pantomime requires tremendous stamina and the role of The Dame carries enormous responsibility. To play a successful Dame the actor must have great experience in comedy and life. The Dame is the clown and must incorporate both humour and pathos, something one gains through life’s hard experiences. I hope my portraits allow the viewer to pass over the footlights to look into the eyes of the Dame and see the dedication, the physical strength and the fragility and fear of these great ladies of the theatre.

I trained at Chelsea College of Art and last year was commissioned by ‘Time’ Magazine to paint a cover of Her Majesty the Queen Mother. Private commissions taken.

Please contact judygram@dircon.co.uk for further details

NOTES: Most canvases are 92 by 122 cms and all are oil on canvas

More Examples of Dame Portraits

Examples of Private Commissions

This page was last updated 12th January 2001

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