Most people use their hands and faces to portray emotions. It is very rare to see someone in a heated informal discussion that is not waving and flailing these appendages about. However, ask this person to stand on stage and just act out the conversation, and most likely they will freeze like a deer in headlights. For actors and dancers, more than any other group, their livelihood depends on their ability to move their bodies and faces to portray emotions. The most important aspect is for those emotions to seem real. This involves letting go of self-consciousness and the knowledge that many eyes are watching your every move.
The art of mime takes this to an even higher level, asking the actor to portray emotions and ideas with his/her whole body. Sometimes this is done while being silent as well. The art is believed to have originated in ancient Greece when actors used to do tragic mime during dramatic plays. Then, mime was transferred to ancient Rome, where the tradition continued.
Studio Emad Eddin in Downtown are hosting Iranian-Egyptian instructor Sabry Zekry for a fundamentals of mime and physical composition workshop called “a chair, an object and I”. His credentials, according to the studio’s website, are: “While working with English artist James Sutherland in South Korea, Zekry discovered physical theatre. Since 2010, he has participated in several workshops, researching physical theatre at the Grotowski Institute (Poland) and at Le Site de pratiques théâtrales (Paris, Lavauzelle).”
Zekry will be teaching participants the methods of Etienne Decroux of corporeal mime. On the studio’s website, it states: “Decroux’s body training was based in part on what modern dancers call “isolations”, in which body sections move in prescribed sequence, and, in part, on the physics of compensation required to keep the body in balance when the center of gravity is shifted. It is the parent of sculpture, poetry and music. It proceeds by analogy, metaphor, and musicality.”
“We will be working with one chair and one object. Participants must act out a story with the chair and using their bodies’ movement,” Zekry explained. He added that the kind of mime he will be teaching is different than the street-performed mime, which is also known as Pantomime. “[Pantomime] is based on mainly moving your face and hands. However, in mime, you have to use your whole body,” Zekry said. He explained that while Pantomime tends to be a silent art, in Decroux’s method, actors can speak.
“There is a great deal of rotation. Actors are required to move their bodies to create angles, and play with movement. It resembles biomechanics. It is a kind of physical theatre. We do not try to replace words with action,” Zekry said.
While anyone can join the workshop, Zekry believes that it will be most beneficial to dancers, actors and stage directors. “Or even writers who would like to research movements, or any amateurs interested in drama-related movement,” he added.
The website states: “The workshop will enable the participants through practical exploration of articulatory possibilities of the body, to work towards a poetics of movement, which does not yield to the evident nor is restricted by physical limitations to create a unit of physical theatre performance.”
Zekry expects participants to perform at the end of the workshop. “They can perform together or separately. It is up to them how to develop the idea which I will give them. My concept will be one story with five different aspects,” Zekry explained.
The workshop will start on 8 September and continued till 18 September from 3pm to 6pm. The deadline for registration is 4 September and the workshop costs EGP 200.