A clown in black & white




Mime is the silent art of acting out a scene or expressing feelings with gestures and facial expressions. A mime artist (from Greek - mimos, "imitator, actor") is someone who uses mime as a theatrical medium or as a performance art, involving miming, or the acting out a story through body motions, without use of speech.

Its performance originates at its earliest in Ancient Greece; the name is taken from a single masked dancer called Pantomimus, although performances were not necessarily silent. In Medieval Europe, early forms of mime such as mummer plays and later dumbshows evolved. In the early 19th century, many of the attributes that we have come to know in modern times — the silent figure in whiteface – were solidified.

Mime has two main types: abstract and literal. Abstract mime often has no plot or main character, but rather is an expression of feeling used to provoke interpretive thoughts about a serious subject. Literal mime is often comedic or is used to tell a story. Gestures and visuals show a clear and usually hilarious tale of the conflict faced by the main character.
Many combinations of both types of mime are possible and pantomime movements are also common to mime. Pantomime is the use of movement and gesture in the telling of a story, usually in a comic manner and is a more literal type of mime.

Silent film comedians like Charles Chaplin, Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton learned the craft of mime in the theatre, but through film, they would have a profound influence on mimes working in live theatre even decades after their death. Indeed, Chaplin may be the most well-documented mime in history.

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