The "M" word: use of mime in storytelling.


People are sick of mediocre mime, so don't let on that you're doing it. (I hope when they get sick of mediocre storytelling they don't turn ugly on us, like they did on the poor mimes.)

Classical mime can be a beautiful thing, but in storytelling it is as distracting as, say, ballet. Yet you need to use mime-- you have no objects, and there are objects in the story, so sometimes you're going to have to handle, or at least look at and react to, something that isn't there. Also, since what you want for your storytelling style is to be yourself at your most expressive, you should use some mime-like elements, because these are part of every-day speech. But you should look like yourself, gesturing naturally, but with unusual effectiveness-- showing, not showing off.

The clearest I've seen it described was in an interview with a 2nd City member. He had studied with Marcel Marceau, and one day learned that his old master was coming to see what he was up to these days. The 2nd City style has several charecteristics in common with storytelling-- no scenery, no props, no script, no fourth wall-- and many of the sketches used simple pantomiming. Marceau loved the show, and when his old student asked him nervously what he thought of the mime, Marceau waved and shrugged-- "Oh," he said, "it didn't bother me."

That's the ideal, I think.

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