Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Mime. The theory and Practice of Expressive Gesture

I took this book out from Boots Library.

It's actually been quite informative. If I can find a copy to buy and keep for future reference, I will.

I can see the link between mime and animation. Both involve inventing some or all of a world and having to move and behave in accordance with it, with intangible things.

This book has some good pieces of advice such as, 'The audience must observe the artist seeing something to which he can react emotionally.'
This can be interpreted as 'every action has a purpose - make them clear to the audience'.

When the entire world your character is situated in is imaginary, everything that is put into that world has a reason for being there, even if it is simply to add depth to a story. This is particularly true for a character's movement. Every action a character is given has something to tell the audience. A character should make each action quite large and obvious to guarantee the audience sees it and comprehends it, unless perhaps its subtlety is saying something in itself.

This book also gives the advice that the head should lead motion - 'The head leads every movement in mine and dance'. I think this is true for emotion, but it stands to reason that the physicality of an action should be lead from the core of the body where the power of movement resides.
I think the head shouldn't lead movement, but it should be the first part of the body to express a reaction, which spreads from there outwards.

We are also reminded that the torso might seem to be very rigid but it does have some power of expression through the movement used in breath. Some expressions in a human are supported by the raising or deflating of the chest. This is something that shouldn't be forgotten in animation as it may add to the believability of the character's performance.

Another nice quote was 'the final thing that the artist must cultivate when working on the hands and fingers is a sense of touch.'
This is quite powerful in the animation context. As a mime artist you may have to convey the texture of some kind of cloth, for example, which you might not have with you on stage. Or perhaps you do have it on stage, but you will have to communicate your reaction on a larger scale so the audience understands it.
This even more of a point in animation, where you can't rely on any props in the real world to instigate a response.

This book has led me to a couple of artefacts - one being a character touching different textured things and responding as in the last paragraph, and the other being a character carrying a pot on its head, and how that character might walk, feeling the floor with their feet because they can't lower their head to see.
Both of these have potential for exploring secondary action too.

This book also has a guide, a glossary, on expressions which would be very useful for reference material.

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