Ahead of this year’s edition of the festival, we wanted to highlight the question of what mime is and how it informs the artistics practises of all the invited artists.
We asked them the following questions:
What is mime to you/Why are mime ’methods’ important in your practice?
How do you view mime as distinct from ’theatre’ (if, indeed, you see any distinction)?
As you will discover from the responses we got mime is a highly contested term within the mime community itself! The main tenant, however, is placed on articulation of movement and its relation to theatrical staging. One of the reasons we present this years program is exactly to show a glimpse of the various expressions found within the definition of mime.
’Remember that the definition of mime is “to play all” from the Greek “pantomime”.
By performing without speaking with the mouth, I can do exactly that, playing characters that would not work if I were to speak with my own voice. I can also work internationally with no language barriers to overcome and have played in 68 countries to date, reaching very diverse audiences.
Mime technique also helps me with my clowning and puppetry because it gives me timing and articulation of movement. The principles of mime can also enhance acting in theatre and film.
Mime is theatre, just as dance is. All theatre should be visual (or else it would be radio). Like dance, mime has many different styles and all are valid if done well.’
If you are looking for a definition of what mime can be you can find many.
Mime can be seen as an opportunity to work with scenic enhancement, with movements that
enhance or change the expression of everyday life. The physical language of a mime-actor is based on conscious choice and physical accuracy.
Mime can also be defined as visible and embodied energy at the intersection of the thinking
and the movement of an actor. What an actor knows and thinks is visible throughout the body, when one chooses.
Mime can also be seen as a creative tool that can be used to understand both the construction of a performance and the role-character. What an actor learns from studying different mime techniques is an attitude to one’s own body, to the work of the co-actors and to the rhythm and tempo in a play.
Furthermore, mime can be seen as a craft of varying origins in the various historical
techniques. This craft can be used for completely modern stage forms or for an actor’s
individual work. The work of an individual actor in a performance can be mime.
The relationship between mime and text is a completely free story for me. There can be
sounds and there can be words. Or be quiet.’
Ana Stanišić & Veronica Bedecs
Mime for us is a universal language which allows the mime actor to combine movement with other performative elements in complete harmony. Mime also allows people talking different languages to have a common and unifying experience. We think that is important. A mime performance can be played anywhere in the world, no need for subtitles.
For the performance OH SNAP mime is everything. This play shows how one can use mime to create worlds and characters by only using bodies, light and sound, the stage is totally empty.
– Ana Stanisic
I would phrase it like this: Mime is theatre. Mime as a performative art is as old as ancient Greece. People have always and will always use their bodies to tell stories, it is the development and the usage of the different mime techniques that’s quite interesting.
– Veronica Bedecs, Pantomimteatern
MIME is a Creator who is constantly in the observation of the world in search of an artistic image. Each Creator must possess certain tools to translate their feelings, thoughts, ideas into reality and share them with the audience. The art of pantomime is limitless, as are the possibilities of MIME. With the help of technique and plasticity MIME can display on an empty stage any phenomenon and it will be understood by viewers worldwide. In MIME, it is not only important with a trained body, and creating literate composition of pantomime. After all, pantomime has developed, MIME can control time and space, transform reality, objects and the body. Pantomime is absolutely not demanding, you can always take it with yourself, which we usually do. Comparing pantomime with theater before, it lacked only words, but now we can see that the use of speech in pantomime works, as well as circus art and dance, and this is normal.
We really hope that we will improve the opinion of others about pantomime, but in words it is much harder to convey than through our performances.
LaBú Teatre/Anna Ros
Almost all of my professional career has been related to physical theatre. My desire is to transmit sensibility and love for beauty, which I believe is a fundamental value in life that we must share with our audience. I have been lucky enough (like many others) to understand that living a life with fullness and thoughtfulness can create beauty in itself. Mime is one of the artistic methods that allows me to find this unexpected beauty and make it visible through movement.
For me mime is a major approach in exploring the field of communication between movement and interpretation. In animation, timing are essential, and mime is an explorative method in translating intentions and emotions into physical action.
In my work, I search for simplicity, stripping back layers to find the essence of the matter. In stripping back the layers of theatre, we find at its core the creation of imaginary space, with the most fundamental expressive tool being the human body. This ’essence’ of theatre is precisely what I understand mime to be.
Mime is knowing how to convey a story or message to an audience through movement and expression. I think it’s important for our practise because it can say a million different things, but the interpretation will always lay in the eyes of the beholder. Spoken Movement’s aim is to convey storytelling through movement and feeling and we always want to hear the responses from our audiences as it adds richness to the work.
‘What is mime?’ is a haunting question, which is sneaking up on you again and again wherever you go, without really showing its face. A lot of people have tried to unmask it, but never really succeeded as it tends to come back all the time.
In general, I think that the development of theatrical expression has changed a lot over the past decades.
Before there were clearly separated forms: dance, theater, music, circus and opera. Slowly it all started to merge together, becoming one expressive medium that I call ‘Theatre’. Like Performance Art combined visual arts and theatre, mime combines dance and theatre. And the stage is not only limited to the traditional theater anymore, we can use any location as stage for theatrical expression. Nowadays it’s all mixed up, in dance productions people use their voices talking, and during a theatre play we see dancers. We use the form, technique and method that can best express what we want to tell and evoke the right emotional impact. I like that, and it’s the way I work.
I went to the Mime school in Amsterdam. This school is part of the Dutch mime tradition, which based itself on Etienne Ducroux as the basic technique but then mainly focused on creating own ideas and finding ways to express them through physical action using the space around you and everything within that space.
I find it very difficult to say what ‘mime’ is. There are also so many different ways people use it and think about it. From my point of view mime is about working from the body and movement to emotional expression, which for me is more intuitive, as language tend to be more intellectual. My working method starts with a theme or situation, then I work this out visually and physically using any form or discipline that I find suitable for what I want to create.
We firmly hold to the conception of all arts being a mime. To make poetry is to mime. This means that creating a line of movement is equivalent to writing a line of words.
Mime for us is thus translated as a state of mimesis in which an aspect of reality is embodied. The material manifestation that embodiment might take can equally come from the body, the voice or even through mediums that are not directly related to the body such as poetry and music. In the resonance of mimesis we find the fusion of elements that were once considered as an integral unity of theatre which, over the past three millenniums, have drifted apart as separate ‘disciplines’ such as theatre, dance, mime, circus and music.