If the purpose of the theatre is to spin dreams, and of film to portray them, pantomime introduces us to their poetry. Unlike film, it works with effects that are easily and immediately understood. Its smile does not exclude a philosophical point of view, however. If the common world of the jester, the comedian and the clown is the stage, the screen and the circus arena, then mime represents the basic element of imagination in this world. It is a form of stage expression as old as the theatre itself. – Jaroslav Gillar
Acting is a craft! Everything can be expressed purely through the human body. Whether you have a desire to refine your understanding of your body, work as a stand-up comedian, create and share your own one-person play, or want to give your dance choreography a theatrical background, this workshop is for everybody who is eager to learn the practice of the solo performing artist.
We will start our work with the ABC of pantomime: Jacques Decroux’s MIME CORPOREL. We will add classic methods based on COMEDIA DELL ARTE and PHYSICAL COMEDY (Clown) but also the PHILOSOPHICAL MIME by Master Marcel Marceau. After this experience we move on and put our new approach to work and develop short drama or comedy pieces. Part of the workshop will be also lectures about aesthetics, theater history, light design and stage management for performing artists.
The goal of this workshop is to establish a profound rehearsal routine for performers who have a lot of ideas and want to put them into action. Find your inner clown!“Please bring a USB drive with you. Nina will share some valuable pdf files with you (philosophy of arts, theater history etc.)”
An Introduction to Pantomime
This first workshop introduced us to history and background of pantomime, beginning with the formal language created by Etienne Decroux (though we also learned that mime has existed far back into antiquity), and to the existential threat to contemporary pantomime, which perhaps becoming a bit lost in the ever-growing world of physical theater.
This was followed by attention-focusing games, to shift gears into a more interoceptive awareness, and we began the pantomime-specific work with joint isolations.
Joints are capable of moving in more ways than we realize; however, because we move them always the same way, we lose the sense of refinement that allows us to segment movements into their pieces. It turns out that so many of the illusions of pantomime rely on the intentional development of joint isolation.
An example we learned with Nina: bending the neck versus bending the head. These two basic pieces are often done together. But to separate them gives you more options. (we like options!) For example, learning to articulate from the higher cervical joints to create a movement of just the head, as opposed to articulating the lower cervical joints to create a movement of the neck as well. These can be combined to create the glides so pervasive in popping/locking.
These in turn are combined with other principles of pantomime to create illusions. Nina gave us a live performance of “The Life”, which gives a good demonstration of creating these illusions
Nina Explains Mime Corporel
Mime Corporel is a technique established by the great Etienne Decroux who influenced many “advocates” of the PURE MOVEMENT THEATER such as Marcel Marceau, Jacques Lecoq, Jerzy Grotowski and many other luminaries in the performing arts.
Mime Corporel (or Corporeal Mime) is also called the ABC of an actor’s training. The highest goal of this technique is to isolate the movements of body parts and eventually be able to switch from one part to another as efficiently as possible. Once this approach of moving our bodies has been transferred into our muscle memories, we will be able to challenge gravity and create magic on stage.
In the second part of our master class we will look at Marcel Marceau’s school of the Philosophical Mime by visiting the world of illusion: Pantomime. The very word literally translates to copy everything. The technique of mime corporel will help us to fuse our brain with our muscle memory and express our visions and philosophical thoughts.
Marcel Marceau once stated: The Mime should start his/her career as an acrobat and finish it as a philosopher
About Nina Martin
Nina Martin (formerly Hlava), director of Nina Martin’s School of Solo Theater is equally versed in classical acting, pantomime, clown-playing and tap dance. Nina holds a Ph.D. in non-verbal theater from the Academy of Performing Arts (AMU) in Prague, Czech Republic. She has been a member of the “Bühne Heidenreichstein” theater group (Austria) since the age of five. She studied under the National Theater Association in Austria, as well as at the Scuola Teatro Dimitri (Switzerland), Atelier de Belleville (France) and with tap dancer Katherine Kramer in Miami (USA). She had the honor of studying with Maestro Marcel Marceau in two master classes. Nina divides her time between solo performances in Europe and the U.S. and teaching pantomime, clown-playing and tap dance. Her lectures relate to the topics of theater aesthetics and areas from her doctoral thesis: “performer versus actor.”