This paper is about pantomime, about it’s
origin, it’s people, how it has evolved, and how wonderful
it is. Pantomime is a dramatic performance in which a story
is told or a theme developed through expressive bodily or
facial movement. The origin of pantomime can be traced
back to classical farce and the Italian Commedia Dell’arte.
Not all pantomime is silent. The completely silent
performance of pantomime was invented in Rome.
Pantomime is sometimes used to worship. Mime is a short
way of saying pantomime and also means someone who
performs pantomime. A mime, if performing on the streets,
will have a hat that is passed around for spectators to put
money in. When doing pantomime, it should be noted that
the imaginative performance skills are illusion and
illustration. Also, you should “cultivate an understanding of
the role that the body plays in suggesting an idea, an
impression, a sensation, or a character.” Pantomime can be
done solo, or in a group of any size. Before performing, a
mime must do warm-up and relaxation exercises. Miming
takes mental and physical strength. Perfect coordination of
all parts of the body is essential for expressive movement
and graceful poise in pantomime. A good mime must be
very flexible. You must be fluid at changing posture to
create a character. Facial expression changes everything
while performing pantomime. You must be very relaxed
when doing pantomime. People speak different languages,
but most gestures mean the same thing. Animals, insects
especially, have probably done pantomime before humans
were even alive. For example, bees do pantomime when
telling others where nectar is, and peacocks use pantomime
to impress a mate. Prehistoric man was next, after animals,
to do pantomime. Prehistoric men would do pantomime to
try to influence nature to let them get a kill while hunting.
Before language, prehistoric men told about a hunt with
pantomime. Prehistoric men would use pantomime to tell
the history of the tribe. A clown named Grock became a
very successful mime. He started as an acrobatic clown at
a very young age. Grock became famous because he
succeeded in the circus and in the music hall. After years of
successfully performing in circuses, he tried his clown
routine in a theater in Berlin. Grock began to move away
from broad comedy in the Grimaldi tradition, and towards
Debureu’s type of performance. In his first performance in
a theater, the audience did not respond. Grock realized that
the type of performance required for the theater is different
than that required by the circus. Grock began to use a
clown as a pantomime character whose actions comment
on life. Grock went on to become one of the greatest
performers of the variety stage. Grock used music to
portray man’s struggle with fate, just like Beethoven, but in
a different way. Before Grock would play violin, he would
throw the bow up in the air and try to catch it, but miss.
Then he would retreat behind a screen to practice and the
audience could see the bow flying above the screen. He
returned to face the audience and missed again. He became
so flustered that he threw the bow in the air and caught it
without even knowing it! When Grock sat down on the
piano bench to play piano and found that it was too far
from the piano, he would struggle to push the piano closer
to the bench! Like all good comedy, this reflected man’s
struggle to tame nature. The circus was saved from too
much clown tradition in the 1940’s by a man named
Emmett Kelly. The costumes were getting too elaborate.
The usual clown costume descended from the vari-colored
costume of the Roman mimes. Originally, it was intended to
symbolize rags, like the clown was an impractical guy who
didn’t get along in the real world. A long evolutionary
process ended up with vari-colored, but elaborate
costumes. The costumes reached some sort of peak when
the Harlequin costumes of the English pantomime had as
many as fifty-thousand sequins on them. Emmett Kelly
brought back the original idea and wore a tramps costume
of actual rags. The usual clown make-up is a bright colored
pattern which serves as a trademark for each clown. Kelly
wore make-up to match his raged costume. He invented his
own intimate style of pantomime in, but almost independent
of, the circus. Kelly would beg peanuts from kids in the
audience and then break the shells with a huge hammer,
completely! shattering the peanut, and then search stupidly
for the meat among the debris. Clowns of the modern
circus are called “Joeys” after Joseph Grimaldi. In the
modern American circus, there are many able clowns
including Lou Jacobs, Paul Wenzel, Otto Griebling, Paul
Jung, and Freddie