French Mime

Want to learn more about French mime? Read on for facts and info on this unique traditional form of performance arts…

The French mime is a unique form of art which entails silent acting of scenes. Mime performers express feelings and emotions using facial expressions and gestures. Mime was largely introduced to the rest of the world by the French although this art form did not develop in the country.

The origin of this unique style of performance dates back to ancient Roman and Greek civilizations. In fact mime was popularly practiced in Italy much before it reached France. However it was in France that mime started to become a widely practiced form of art. With the passage of time French mime became so popular that there were a great number of specialist mime schools across the country. These schools were the breeding grounds for a variety of mime traditions which are alive even until today. However the kind of mime that has become popular in the 20th century is of a totally different shade from traditional French mime.

French Mime Traditions

As of tradition mime performers would wear masks and act out scenes of everyday life. The Greeks had developed their own drama centered mime performances known as hypotheses which were performed in front of large audiences. Mime actually made its way to France from Italy where it was introduced by the Romans after their conquest of Greece. It was in 1811 that mime first made its breakthrough in Paris at the hands of Bohemian Jean Gaspard Batiste Deburau who was a talented member of an Acrobat family touring the region at that time.

Deburau stayed back in France and continued to work on mime to give it a more polished and expressive feel. This was when French mime came into its own and the style continues even up till today. Some of the most popular characters developed by the father of French mime include Jean-Louis Barrault, Jacques Copeau, Etienne Decroux and the lovesick Perriot. These characters were developed around the time of the First World War.

Famous French Mime

In the following years France produced a number of mime performances that were very well-received all over the world. One of these fine performances was actually a feature length film that protected a fictional story of Deburau’s contribution to the art form. Another popular French mime was Marcel Marceau who was known for creating the character of Bip, and average fellow with exceptional bad luck. His trademark attire with a top hat sporting a flower and a short coat became popular all around the world.

French Mime Types

French mime developed two distinct forms; one of these was literal and the other abstract. Stack mime as the name suggests did not have a solid plot and nor was it centered around one character. Rather it was a performance where mime artists depict their feelings to evoke a sense of interpretation about a topic that was considered to be serious.

Literal mime on the other hand has a more comic theme. Such kinds of mime performances have a story to tell and gestures and visuals are composed in a manner to literally convey the message in a funny and interesting manner.

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