Last Friday, I went to see Hotel Paradiso, a play by the German mime company, Familie Floez. What an education it was!
Mime theatre was not something I had ever watched before Friday. The idea that actors wear masks all through a play and 'mime' (act without saying words), brought to my mind silly, clownish theatre. But Hotel Paradiso was an inspirational introduction to this world.
It is a production of very high standards. A lot of work must have gone into the play. It was moving and funny, plus there was lots of detail. While the story was not particularly good, it was very skillfully rendered. We were all stunned to see that the array of 10 or more characters had really just been three guys and a gal (in their 30s).
Here is what I learnt:
- Body language and action can render words unnecessary.
- One mask, set in a single expression, can effectively summarise a character.
- Clothing says a lot. Together with body language, clothing establishes character in seconds.
- You really can show and do not have to tell. Pick the right indicative actions, and everything is explained.
- Music can be very effective at conveying atmosphere and emotion.
- Stillness and slow movement convey seriousness and gravitas.
- Stillness, slow movement, and bittersweet music move and affect.
- Repetition and adaptation of strong scenes renders them very powerful.
Check out the Familie Floez company website.