Zillur Rahman John – Bangladesh – Interview

What is Mime / Pantomime?

The word MIME means to present a sketch or topic by using only expressions of the face and gestures of hands and the movement of the body on any set of stage in front of audience. It is kind of comical, satire, entertaining, funny, and sarcastic.

Mime is the name of a nonverbal performing art form, same time the word Mime indicates the person who acts, who performs, who imitates and presents something to say to the audience. It means the person also called as Mime. Mime is also related with other two words such as MIMETIC and MIMIC.

It is hard to explain the exact pure definition of Mime art due to the historical coordination and continuation about the practice of this art form. It is mostly an independent art form and depends on the individual’s idea to say something to his audience.

Mime is in between Dance and Theatre. Mime is creative dramatic expression, usually without the use of words. Mime has an acting style of its own, with its own structure and techniques.

Mime is the art of recreating the world by moving and positioning the human body. Mime is the art of imagining the world together with others and the art of creating the illusions of reality.

PANTOMIME is a Greek word, which means all mimic. Pantomime word derives from two Greek words PANTOS and MIMEOMAI. Though the word pantomime originally came from Greek words, but it is named by the Romans.

Pantomime is a form of acting, the acting without the words. Pantomime is the art of creating the illusions of reality by dealing with imaginary objects or situations. It presents funny play for children, based on fairy tale with music and dance especially at Christmas.

Pantomime art became so much popular and accepted to the high-class people in Rome. Because mainly the stories were classical or historical, romantic episode but the ends turned into tragic mood.

Historically, the origin of MIME and PANTOMIME are different and presentation style was also different, but eventually there is no big difference between these two words. Mime and Pantomime both use techniques of silent acting, gestures, postures and facial expressions or specific expression through using mask or white face make up. These two words blended together because both has no words, no boundaries, no language barriers, and well communicated art form around the world.

What influences and teachers have influenced you?

In my work at the beginning, basically it was influenced by Theatre and Physical Theatre. I practiced this art form Mime and Pantomime through experimental ways, so had chance to practice illusionary mime style by Marcel Marceau (France); Corporeal mime techniques by Etienne Decroux (France); movement and character based silent acting form by Henryk Tomas Zewski (Poland).

These three-mime artist’s thought, form and styles influenced me a lot.

Why did you choose Mime / Pantomime?

I started my theatrical career in a leading theatre group in Bangladesh in 1978. Most of the theatre productions were based on mainly physical activities, theatrical movements, choreography, compositions. It gave me a thought that body movement and actions with expressions is more communicative and powerful to present a dramatic approach on stage.

I watched few mime performances live on stage by the American artists and France artists in the year 1975 to 1980s. Those performances opened my eyes to start a new art form which has no language barrier, well communicative, independent practice and perform oriented, above all it creates the universality.

Then after I transformed myself from verbal theatre to nonverbal arena, which is Mime and Pantomime.

Mime work in digital space – can it work? What is changing?

We never thought about mime work in digital space before the COVID -19 Pandemic. It has been crashed and changed our all human lifestyle and compacted us inside the home and opened the windows of online digital art space or digital media for work.

Personally, it seems to me that it is difficult for the performing arts like theatre, mime, or pantomime and for the performers to use digital platforms for these types of arts.

Because on stage live performance in front of live audience is totally different feeling. Where there is no physical communication between live performers and live audience, there is no live performing arts.

Digital space reminds me about television, film media not the real life of theatre and theatrical stage.

Distance not only in the presentation medium, but also in everyday social life, change this situation the perception of physical theater?

I totally agree that social distance, physical distance, stay home, stay safe, these words changed our lives, not only for survival from corona virus but also changed our day to day cultural lives and works.

The whole world is now acting under digital technology, online medium, and created distance from real lives through video cam or through computer screen.

But for all types of performing arts like Orchestra, Rock shows, Theatre Productions, Mime and Pantomime performances, Dance shows are facing crucial time due to this distance. It needs live audience to enjoy the live performance, but the time we are passing now, diverted our total concept to think out of the track and out of long practice for the living arts in the world.