Mime – you love it or you hate it. Regardless, it doesn’t hurt to learn the tricks of the trade. Why? For starters, mime skills are tremendously important to improv acting. Says psychologist and improv enthusiast Dan Goldstein, “50% of what the audience thinks of you as an improviser hinges on the quality of your mime and physicality.” So if you’re looking to step up your improv game, mime is the way to go (also consider a great improv class on Vimbly!). And if all else fails, a mime makes for a great Halloween costume.
The following are some basic tips to get you started:
Step 1) Get into character. You’ll need: black and white clothing, white face paint, black eyeliner, and some red lipstick. While the classic costume is not necessary, mime is all about commitment, both physically and mentally, and you can’t commit if you don’t look the part.
Step 2) Learn to isolate various parts of your body. To illustrate, place your hand on a wall (a real one, not a mimed one). As you move the rest of your body, feel how your body responds to keep your hand isolated. Understand and replicate these interactions.
Step 3) Tell a story. The best mimes don’t just learn individual tricks (like being trapped in a box or walking down the stairs), they use these actions to create an engaging story. Said the famous mime Marcel Marceau, “In silence and movement, you can show the reflection of people.” Think about what you want to communicate, and mime accordingly.
Step 4) Practice! The only way to master mime is to work at it. Observation and imitation is a key component of learning this skill, so some great mimes to browse on Youtube include: Charlie Chaplin, Marcel Marceau and even Robin Williams. Even better than a video? Sign up for a mime class on Vimbly.
Step 5) Last but not least, be in good physical condition. Some people REALLY dislike mime. At all times, be poised to run away from potential antagonists. Attempting to mime a real fight is not recommended.