Ahh, the wonderful life of a mime! I was a professional mime
for 5 years and loved every silent moment of it. Miming takes LOTS of practice
to be preformed properly. With proper training and practice your audience will be amazed to actually see objects you touch materialize before their eyes. But without using the proper technique,
your audience won’t have any idea what you are doing and become disinterested.
Rule number 1: “Thou shalt not live by ‘the wall’ alone.”
Indeed doing an imaginary wall is the most well-known trade mark of a mime.
Whenever I’m street performing instead of doing stage shows I will have at
least twenty passerby’s request I ‘do the wall’. However there is much more to
miming than just a simple technique you’ve learned. The sooner you learn this
truth the better you will be able to hold an audience’s attention (instead of
boring them into simple submission). Don’t get me wrong here, having good,
polished technique is VERY important; but that’s only the half of it. It’s what
you DO with the technique that will make for a magical presentation for all.
Rule number 1.5: “There’s more to it than meets the wall.”
So you have a nice wall made, no pushing your hand through making a hole and
your eyes are looking AT your wall, but now for the story line! Watching you just do the wall is like just looking at a wall. Yay. You have to apply the story to it. Are you opening a window? No, more! Are you opening a window to clean it? What about, opening a window on the eighth floor to clean
the outside of it and a fly won’t leave you alone. Now there’s a story line for
you. You can do this with all your techniques and a lot of the real world
around you. Do what the people in the area really are doing. Remember, your
technique isn’t the show; you use your technique to tell the story. People want
to watch your story line, not your techniques. If you’re technique is sharp
enough, people will forget the world around you isn’t really there and just see
what you are showing them. And that’s pretty neat for everyone involved.
Rule number 2: “Silence is the golden rule!” During the
hours you practice, it is usually best to do so as if you actually have an
audience. Therefore you do so silently! If you practice your technique while
talking to people, you will have an urge to talk while doing a presentation.
Rule number 2.5B: Before moving on I want to clarify a much
misunderstood misconception here.. that a mime is NEVER allowed to speak. This
is of course absurd! If I have my make-up on before/after a presentation I
treat the whole world as my stage and have fun with people while pumping my
gas. hahaha. But there is a rule in the miming world that people don’t seem to know
about, which is, if the outer black line of your face (or mask) is broken (smudged)
you are then out of your character and can then talk with your face on. But
since no one knows this little loophole besides mimes it’s usually better to
stay in character anyway. Why? Because there’s always THAT GUY who wants to get
in an argument with a mime. (an argument with a mime, ha, someone get this guy off the stage already!)
Rule number 3: The details are worth a thousand walls. While
playing a specific character your facial expression can do wonders. I personally
spend just as much time working on my expressions as I do perfecting my
techniques. Stand in front of a mirror going as extreme as you can with an
expression. If you’re angry make the most pissed off face you can till you
start turning red. We’re talking psycho mad here. Be the happiest mime you can till
your cheeks begin to hurt. Get so sad that you make yourself want to cry. Go
through every expression to its extremist, then think of something your
character does and what an appropriate expression would actually be In that
situation. You probably don’t NEED that extreme face, but it will help you to
find that appropriate place in your facial spectrum. A lot of times newbies will
try to make their movements as big as possible and are
trying so hard they completely forget about ALL expression to the point they
just have a blank face. This ends up look really corny and the audience hates
that. I find it best to use 40% (very good) technique to show what’s going on,
and 60% expression to tell the story line. They should ideally forget that the
world around you isn’t really there and just become drawn in by your character
and his/her story line.
Rule number 4: “If a tree in the forest falls and no one is there to hear it.. the termites will carry it away.” Remember how I was saying is you don’t see your wall your audience won’t be able to either? That actually goes for everything you do. If in a skit your character enters through “a door”
and two minutes later answers that door in a different spot, no one will know… more than the audience! Obviously if it’s a huge guff up it will look bad. But it’s all about the details. Right down to turning the door knob at the same height twice. If you set something down and walk away, count how many steps you took so you can get back to the same spot. If you set your hat down on stage
left, don’t pick it back up at stage right! This all seems very obvious but if you set of a video camera while you practice, you will be surprised how often things get ‘carried away by the termites’!
Rule number 5: You will never be done learning! Even after
you have practiced it a million times, there’s always room for more. And on
that note, Keep in mind that ‘practice makes permanent’. Don’t practice half
way or else that’s how you will keep doing it forever more! Hope this helps. There’s
still so much more but this will get you headed in the right direction! Let me
know if you have any questions.