October 26, 2007

Mime, Make-up and My Costume

The Fun and Function of Mime and Balloon Art Performing

Costumes, Performance Tips-- and a Bit of Banter-- Enjoy!

[Go to the first post in this series]

For my particular style, less has been more-- more fruitful. I've found that a 'full-blown' clown puts off a sizable percentage of people, especially in circumstances outside of the 'normal'-- parties, performances for audiences etc. I've found that since most of my work is on the street, dressing as a performer rather than a clown has been best for me.

The same with make-up, without either the clown make-up or the mime's white face, it is easier to be more flexible and not be stuck with having to stay 'in character'. I can more easily go from mime, to speaking-- and I don't have to use a 'clown' voice-- although I do use a bit of whistling at times-- to emphasize something or even provide my own 'back-up' music.

I started using mime years ago, first acting in skits for small audiences, and then on the street. I had found it difficult get people to take a tract or poster from me if I only offered something and said, 'Hi!', 'Excuse me' or 'This is for you.'

I found that the most effective method was to get some eye contact and firmly offer whatever I had with good timing. Then, when we added some funny antics or wild costumes, we'd have even better success.

I'd tried some 'clown' voices, but one day I tried using just mime. I would simply get eye contact and hold up my hand, signaling, 'Stop'. And it worked. They didn't just grab what I offered as they passed by, forcing me to then try to then stop them-- they stopped, wanting to know what I wanted. I then pointed out the title, for example, 'Somebody Loves You' and if they read it, I'd direct them to the prayer and, if not and they seemed ready to go, I'd show them our brochure or appeal and they'd help-- or not-- but I did my best with this method.

One girl read the tract and knelt down in the middle of the busy walking street to pray the prayer out loud, got our phone number and later came to our house-- and was surprise to find that I spoke-- ha! I eventually dropped my attempts at a 'performing' voice or at full mime. Honestly, I just wasn't that good at either.

My costume also evolved, from wild or even weird at times to quite formal-- almost like what a magician might wear. I used a tuxedo for a while, then dropped the jacket and stuck with the tuxedo pants, vest and formal shirt with a black bow-tie and black shoes-- topped, for a long time, with a red cotton fisherman's hat. I still use this hat in the summer, but now, when it's cool enough, I use a wool-- hence, the heat-- Charlie Chaplin-style bowler.

Next: How It Works-- The Act

No comments:

Post a Comment