n. the theatrical technique of suggesting action, character or emotion without words, using only gesture, expression and movement; vb to use only gesture and movement to act out a play or role
Mime is a fun (and quiet!) creative activity to keep children occupied in a busy household.
In performance, mime is important because it is an effective way of encouraging young people to develop their acting skills in terms of body language (posture, movements, gestures, etc.) and for them to gain a greater awareness of its importance as a form of communication. It encourages children to create an imaginary world clearly, communicate feeling and thought physically (with the whole body not just the face), and to tell a simple story. Here are some quick mime exercises for you to try:
1. FIXED POINT
Place either hand flat and firmly in front of you. Someone else could hold your hand at a small distance away to mark the point. Then try moving sideways and forwards and backwards to see what you have to do to make the hand stay in the same place. You can even practise with a real wall to start with. Once you’ve got the hang of it, add your second hand at some distance creating two fixed points, either side of the body. Holding both hands still, move the body as far as it can go, left or right, without losing the fixed points (again practice on a real wall to help). Readjust the hands one after the other to meet the new body position with two more fixed points, leading with the hand on the side the performer is going towards, and moving the body. A similar exercise can be done with an imaginary table top to practice fixed point in a different plane. This can be developed further still, by working with a partner, which could, for example, become a locked door.
2. THE DOOR
This is pulling against a fixed point. Practice with a real door and see how the your arm changes shape as you open it. You could add weight to the door from the other side so that you have to adjust their physicality. Then make the same movements without the door.
3. HEAVY BOX
When you lift a heavy box, the shoulders are pulled to a greater or lesser degree depending on the weight of the box. Be aware of how the body adjusts to the unexpected weight of the box. Bear in mind that in mime it is often necessary to exaggerate the actions and conditions of real life to a degree in order for the audience to understand what is being shown. As before, you could experiment with something heavy and then see if you can replicate your movements with an imaginary box.
4. THE BALL
You need more than one person for this one. Stand in a circle and pass an imaginary ball around. The second time round each person can use the ball in a creative way before passing it on. The third time round each person to accept the object and then change it into something else, use it and then pass it on.
5. CREATE A STORY WITH MIME
Once you’re feeling confident, you can create a story using mime. You could use a story that you like as a starting point. This example uses one of the Mr Men books, Mr Nosey by Roger Hargreaves. The Scene: N.B. although the character is referred to as ‘he’ here Nosey can be either gender. Nosey enters (He is always led by his nose), carrying a mime bag and with a pair of mime binoculars hanging round his neck. He sees a bench and sits down on it (some performers might like to do a mime sit but this is not necessary since it is hard to sustain. A chair is fine. Two or three chairs would indicate a bench and would give more room for the character to extend the movement from the nose). Nosey looks around. He puts the bag on the floor and takes up the binoculars. He looks up and down and all around. He may see one or two things that interest. When Nosey sees something interesting he lifts his eyes away from the binoculars and looks with the end of its nose, reacting to what he sees, before going back to the binoculars. Then he stops. Someone is coming towards the bench and then sits down (the audience can’t see this other person, but part of the mime is to make the other person appear real to the audience by the performer’s reactions to what they see the other person doing). Nosey smiles at the other person. The person gets out a letter or perhaps a book. Nosey resists for a moment but then can’t help himself, he leans over to read it but can’t quite see it – realizes that the other person has noticed him. He tries a second time. Gets caught again. Every time he gets caught he pretends that he’s doing something else. Third time he uses his binoculars and starts to read the letter. As he gets interested he gets closer and closer... (the performer must know what is in the letter/book so that they can react to it. Now he can see the content of the letter better and the audience should see his reaction to it. Now it is what is in the letter that draws Nosey forward to keep reading not just the need to be nosey. The more exciting, shocking, funny or sad it is the better. The performer should write this letter and be able to read it in their mind. That is called the Interior Dramatic Monologue (IDM) and brings life, intention (or motivation) and thought process to the character in mime. (From this point on what happens depends on what is in the letter!) Nosey might, for example, see something very sad. He begins to cry, then to sob. A tear drops on the letter. Alternatively, Nosey might see something really funny, begin to smile, the smile turning to a giggle, the giggle to a laugh, the laugh to a guffaw and the guffaw to uncontrollable laughter. At some point he reacts strongly to something he has read (laugh, surprise etc) Suddenly (and that can be done quickly or slowly) he realizes the other person has seen him. He stops. He looks up at the other person through the binoculars – (they look huge! He reacts). He lowers his binoculars quickly and the other person immediately punches him in the nose and walks off leaving Mr Nosey reeling and feeling to see if his nose is still intact.