Basics of Mime Techniques
Basics of Mime Techniques
You begin with some basic techniques that are common to all beginners. For example creating illusionary objects like a wall, a ball, a rope, climbing an imaginary ladder, leaning, walking in place and more.
At the time of creating an illusion, the mime must truly believe in the reality of the illusion being created. If the mime is not convinced, how can he hope that the illusion will be realistic for the audience? This calls for a lot of practice. You can follow this tip to create a convincing illusion –
For example, if it is a wall you want to create an illusion of, you must yourself believe the wall to be there. See it in different colors and even textures like rough, smooth, wet, hot etc. Use this technique when creating any kind of illusion. Gradually you will realize that your body reacts naturally to any illusion that you are convinced is real.
Another tip to help in successfully creating an illusion is to imagine how you would react when interacting with the real thing.
Rope Climbing Mime
How would you actually use a rope to scale a wall for example? Pretend there is actually a rope dangling in front of you that are going to use to climb up. Slide down and clamber up for a convincing feel. When you’ve made to the (imaginary) top, wipe the sweat from your brow.
Remember, this is not an easy illusion to master. A mime actor will be required to feel the full weight of his or her body, as would be the case if he or she were really using a rope to climb a wall. The mime actor will have to imagine his or her muscles stretching and straining. The expression on the face must indicate the painful effort that is being made. Wiping the sweat on your forehead will add to the natural feel. A good idea would be to actually climb a rope, with supervision of course, before you attempt to create an illusion of this action. You must make notes in your mind of all the actions and reactions when you are actually climbing the rope. Though, at times when creating an illusion, some movements might be different from a real life situation. What should not change is the mental attitude. Very important to remember is that in order to avoid stretch injuries, always warm up prior to attempting mime exercises; miming requires as much agility as dancing or acting.
Ladder Climbing Mime
Let us move to another mime technique for beginners – climbing a ladder. To create a convincing illusion, take hold of imaginary ladder rungs as if the ladder has been made to lean against a wall. Place the ball of one foot on the ground and the other one on the (imaginary) lowest rung of the ladder like you would if you were climbing a real ladder. Once you have fixed the points in space for the movement of the hands and feet, begin to climb the ladder on your toes by pulling down on the rungs. This must synchronize with the movement of the hands. Remember to alternate your feet when climbing. Focus upwards to create the illusion of looking at the place to which you are climbing. If you want the ladder to appear tall, create the effect of looking down every now and then by slowly looking over your shoulder. For a comic effect, look forward quickly with an expression of alarm!
Imagine that you are trapped in a box. Press the air out, first using your palms and then your fingers. It must seem like you are trying to find a way to get out of the box. Use your hands to create the illusion of trying to identify the corners and sides of the box. Use one hand to run across the length of the imaginary box’s edges as you try to find the lid of the box. To create a dramatic effect of triumph you can throw open the lid with both hands.
Imagine you are leaning against an object like a lamppost or wall. Don’t think even for a minute that it is easy. You will realize that it requires some strength and coordination to lean against thin air. The most basic form of lean has two parts.
The torso or the top part of the body
Position your arm in such a way that it is only a little away from your body. Your elbow should be bent to the extent that your forearm appears parallel to the ground. At this position, your hand should be near your torso. Leave the wrist slightly limp. Now, without moving your elbow, bring your chest towards it by raising your shoulder.
The lower half of the body
Simultaneously, bend your knee just a little and let the weight of your body be borne by the bent leg. The overall effect should look like the body weight has settled onto the imaginary place where your elbow rests. Remember to bend only that leg which is under the raised arm. The other leg must be kept ramrod straight as this enhances the illusion of leaning.
You can take the act of leaning a step further by including stumbling, sliding off and losing one’s balance altogether.
Performing the action of walking while standing in one place is a classic mime act. It is not easy to create the illusion of walking especially when one is stationary. It is physically demanding, as it requires a lot of muscular coordination. There are two major kinds of stationary walking. The easier of the two is the ‘impulse march’
First and foremost, pay attention to your posture. The abdomen should be held tightly (not very tightly though) to prevent it from moving when you are not attentive. Throw your shoulders back. In other words, do not slouch. Keep your neck and chest erect without unnecessarily puffing out the chest.
Now, all your weight should be placed on the ball of just one foot, which is the foot that you will put forward. Bend the knee of this foot only a little. In case of the other foot, which we shall refer to as the ‘trailing foot,’ position the toes such that they are parallel to the toes of the forward foot. Remember that the trailing foot should not touch the ground and its sole should be kept parallel to the ground. The trailing foot should be kept absolutely straight.
Confused? It will help to understand the principle of this illusion if you think back to how we actually walk. Here the pattern of actual walking has simply been reversed. The trailing foot here, although it does not bear any of the body’s weight, must always be kept straight as when actually walking this is the foot that bears the weight of the body. So keeping it straight here will help create the illusion of the trailing foot being the weight bearing foot.
Next, using the forward foot, gradually lower the heel, bringing it closer to the ground, and while doing so straighten the leg. At the same time, move the trailing foot backwards with the sole parallel to the ground. Here too, the foot should be kept straight. When you move the trailing foot backwards you should feel the back of the leg being stretched. Push the trailing leg as far back as possible while keeping your balance. Now, bring it back to the position where it is parallel to your forward foot. Then, just like you would naturally take a step forward, raise the heel of the trailing foot to bring it forward, with the knee slightly bent and make contact with the ground using the ball of the foot. Your feet at this point will be exactly in the opposite position that they were in at the start. The forward foot is now the trailing foot.
The smooth transfer of weight from the earlier forward foot to the new forward foot is the key to making this illusion look convincing. Simultaneously, you will be required to lift the earlier forward foot and make it trail behind as this is now the new trailing foot.
Be prepared to put in a lot of practice to get this mime right.
With so many detailed instructions to be kept in mind, you might forget entirely about your upper body. It has to be kept moving. Swing your arms but ensure that the forward foot must always have a forward hand opposite it. Pay close attention to the way you breathe. Inhale when the trailing foot has to be brought forward. Exhale at the time of pushing the trailing foot as far back as is possible.
Take a break from practicing and try moon walking! Instead of bringing the trailing foot into a position where it is parallel to the forward foot, transfer your weight to the trailing foot and slide the forward foot backwards!