dumb show, a theatrical pantomime included as part of a drama, especially in Elizabethan works, from the middle of the 16th cent. well into the 17th cent. Whether presented as a spectacle, with music, or as a masque with the players as allegorical characters, the dumb show appeared as prologue, between the acts, or during the play itself. It usually either presaged the events of the play or interpreted them as a chorus does.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.