Corporeal mime: how to touch people with feelings

Corporeal mime mutes the voice and articulates thoughts and feelings via the body and its gestures and movement.

It puts the brain back in its place. The body speaks through its actions. Today, so many words, so little meaning.

The above mime artist is ‘Baptiste’, a character based on Jean-Gaspard Deburau (1796-1846), a Bohemian-French actor and mime who performed at the Théâtre des Funambules.

Baptiste is played by Jean-Louis Barrault, who studied with the great mime artist Etienne Decroux, the founder of corporeal mime. The aim of corporeal mime, for Decroux is to ‘make the invisible visible’. This clip shows exactly how this is done.

Baptiste is a character in Marcel Carné’s Les Enfants du Paradis, (The Children of the Gods). The ‘Gods’, in the context, means the audience, the life and vitality of the streets.  The center of the action is the area around the Funambules theatre, also known as the Boulevard du Crime.

The action is set in Paris in 1828s, but the film was made in Paris between August, 1943 and January 1945, i.e., under Nazi occupation (the Nazi’s marched into Paris on June 14, 1940).

Many of the actors were members of the resistance. And the movie itself is an allegory of occupation and resistance.

Try being Baptiste for a day.

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