Imagine you can no longer speak. Your voice is silent. How do you communicate that you’re out of milk? How can you express that you are happy about finding your dog’s collar? How can you ask what time it is? Speaking is our main form of expression. It’s a vital part of everyday. Now imagine that not being able to speak is an art form. It’s called pantomime.
Mimes practice pantomime. The stereotypical mime dresses in a black and white outfit with white makeup covering his face. You may have seen one pretending they are stuck in a box or walking in place. These performers have an uncanny ability to use hand gestures and contorted faces to tell stories, create characters, describe moods, and express ideas. Mime communication is fascinating.
Miming is hard work. It has been since its origins in Ancient Greece. In order to be a mime, both skill and extensive practice are crucial. To be believable, mimes must use all their energy. They must truly believe that they are doing what they are doing. They may be telling a story of love and deceit or climbing a rope that’s not really there. It is both physically and mentally engaging. They must understand how the audience sees their actions. The audience is important because they are the judge and jury of these professional performers.
If you want to be a mime, you must be warned it is no easy task. Mimes are highly trained professionals. Sure anyone can slap together a black and white outfit, paint their face, get a street performer permit, and perform at the town square, but not a good mime. A good mime is going to get professional training at places like the American Mime Theater or the Theatrical Mime Theatre. These places offer courses and training in pantomime or dramatic arts.
As you go to mime training school, be sure to invest in a good mirror. Use the mirror to see yourself and your actions. This way you can fine tune your act and experiment with how the world will see you. After you have tweaked your act and feel you’re ready to explore the world of a mime, get out there and find a job. Mimes can often find jobs with entertainment companies, theatrical groups, circuses, or self employment in a busy tourist area. Bear in mind that often, street performers, like mimes, do need proper permits to perform in public places.
Once you are a professional mime, like the Blue Man Group, you’ll be doing any number of things. You may be part of a window show during fancy parties, mingle with guests at a social function, imitate audience members, act as a human statue, or tell an epic tale on the stage of a community theater. Mimes are only limited by their creativity – nothing is out of reach – reenacting a bloody sword fight, riding an escalator, declaring your love for someone – it’s all fun and games in the world of mimes.
The key is that you express yourself through body and facial movements. You’d be amazed how much can be said with a goofy smile. In fact, super hand gestures and facial twists can earn a full time mime around $77,000 per year. That is not too shabby for not having to speak. If you want to make good mime money, be sure to interact with the audience and always develop new material
You may think that miming is easy, but think about all the little things you do during a normal activity, like eating. Now try to mime it. It’s harder than you think and you probably look funny right now.
Quick Facts About Mime Work
Job Title: Mime
Office: On a stage
Description: Art of acting without using words
Certifications/Education: No formal education necessary, Mime School recommended, street permit
Necessary Skills: Audience Interaction skills, Body and Facial expression
Potential Employers: Theatrical Groups, Circuses, Party Planners, Self Employed