Mime & Pantomime
Photo: Jean Luis Barrault as “Baptiste”, Jean Gaspard Debureau  
From the French film, “Les Enfants de Paradis” (Children of Paradise) 

Pantomime, art of silent storytelling by means of facial expressions and body movements that replace words.  It is narration and can involve a single narrator playing multiple characters or two or more persons having a conversation. There is no 4th wall in pantomime. The storyteller connects directly with the audience. Pantomime was developed to a high art by the 19th-century French actor Jean Gaspard Deburau, who refined an early commedia dell'arte character into the lovelorn clown Pierrot. 

Mime, has always played a part in theater. It dates back to the ancient Romans and Greeks however the common mime that we in the 21st century are accustomed to is very new.  The art of illusion mime dates back to the 1940's and was developed by Etienne Decroux and Jean Louis Barrault. The more famous students emerging from this new artform were Marcel Marceau, Tony Montanaro, Yass Hakoshima, Samuel Avital.  
 
Prior to this modern style of course we have Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton as well as others using pantomime and mime to tell their stories during the silent film era.  In the early days of television famous clowns such as Red Skelton, Sid Ceasar, Imogene Coco, and others used their own style of pantomime in sections of their shows.  

The myth of silence in mime.  The concept that you must remain silent while performing mime was and remains a myth.   The pantomime of Deburau in 19th century France was the result of a law created to forbid Italian commedia actors from speaking on French stages.  They were forced to interpret their often wonderful dialogue with gestures and movement. This forced silence gave birth to Deburau's development of pantomime. It also sparks an exploration in the early 20th century of silent expression by performance artists and actors exploring new ways of theatrical expression. However sound and speech entered the artform in the 60's and 70's with many troupes such as Canada's famous Arete Mime Troupe and Mime Electrique who incorporated sound effects performed by the actors.  There is a special relationship between words and mime movement that must be adhered to but the incorporation of poetry and short bursts of dialogue do not disqualify the theatrical piece as being mime. This of course is disputed between mime perfomers themselves, some of whom insist that mime remain silent.  That being said the workshops are taught from the perspective of silent style allowing the student to explore and exress the work physically.  

The workshops below can be taught separately or combined over a 3 - 5 day project. 

Mime workshop - The workshop will explore as many techniques as possible during the available class time. The workshop begins with a very simple stretch warmup and then we will cover - creating imaginary objects such as a wall, railing, eating and drinking. Manipulating objects technigues like pulling, pushing, lifting, and leaning.  Then techiniques such as walking, climbing stairs, running, swimming, biking, ladders, etc.  The workshop can be tailored to the teacher's specifications according to what they want the students to learn at that point in the drama course.  These techniques  and the level of detail expand in projects involving more than one workshop.  A full week long workshop would end with the students putting together a small presentation. 

Pantomime workshop - The workshop will open with a short stretch exercise to encourage the students to find their full reach in all directions. The pantomime techniques will challenge them to find their extremes and move from one to the other. A brief explanation of the history of pantomime n the mid 1800's will aquaint the students with the reasons for its origins.  The students will then be guided through the invention of a silent monologue. The instructor will give them a line or phrase to say and then tell them how many movements they have to express it.  Lines are added on until the students have performed a 15 move pantomime which also teaches them to shift their emotions.  The class will then learn a pantomime involving Pierrot and Columbine which is approximately 2 minutes in length.  They will be solo narrators playing both roles and learn how to transition in pantomime style between the characters.  They will then learn the pantomime as a duet and how to exchange dialogue between each other. This workshop as well can be tailored for multiple workshops involving a performance piece at the end.