What is Mime?

As a Mimer, I get this question a lot.
O, the guy who’s in an imaginary box wearing a zebra costume?
Person joyfully raises their hands and acts like they’re in a box
No…, that’s pantomime.

Mime and pantomime may seem similar, but they diverge significantly due to the contributions of Étienne Decroux. A student of Jacques Copeau, Decroux was so inspired that he further developed the art of mime. His approach places a strong emphasis on using the body as an expressive sculptural medium.

In the 1960s, Dutch students of Decroux, such as Will Spoor, Jan Bronk, Luc Boyer, and Frits Vogels, introduced his methods to Amsterdam. This led to the emergence of a new form of mime. A mime education program was established in 1962, and since 1968, mime has been an integral part of the Amsterdam School of the Arts (ATD).

Though mime is a niche within the broader theatre landscape, it exerts a broad influence on modern theatre productions, dance, and site-specific performances.

Marijn de Langen, a researcher in the field, noted:
“A mime artist is a theatre maker with a special physical performance, grounded in the mime corporeal technique, who has a great awareness of the space and the various possibilities of their body. A mime artist can use this stage presence to create diverse performances: aesthetic or daily, with characters or with abstract bodies in the space.”

She adds:
“The question, ‘What is mime?’ Is comparable to the question ‘What colour is a chameleon?’ A clear answer is not possible. Mime is sometimes red, sometimes yellow, sometimes traditional, sometimes innovative, sometimes wordless, sometimes linguistic, sometimes public-friendly, sometimes elitist, sometimes humorous, sometimes sad, sometimes endlessly fascinating and sometimes there is nothing to it. None of these properties are inherent to the mime. Its versatility is its power.”

In recent years, mime has attracted a variety of styles and performers, each with their own unique approach, making the field rich and diverse.

Marijn De Langen
Mime (ENG/NL)
Langen_50_jaar_mime_in_Nederland (1) (NL) (NL)

My essay
de mime niche, gewoon mime (NL)