- the theatrical technique of suggesting action, character, or emotion without words, using only gesture, expression, and movement.
In Drama Kids classes, students engage in “Silent Scenes”. These scenes utilize the theatrical technique known as mime. Without speaking, Drama Kids are challenged to create a character in a scene given by their teacher. They act out this scene to music and must show their character’s emotions with their facial expressions, body movements, and gestures.
According to Chicago mime performer, T. Daniel, children are extremely adept at learning the art of mime. This is because children express needs, wants, and feelings with their movements before speech is even developed. It is their first form of communication.
Growing Out of Mime
Teaching children how to fully express themselves through movement can continue to help them communicate confidently as they grow up, both in their social life and educational life. As we age, our utilization of non-verbal communication tends to diminish. This is because adults rely on speech to communicate thoughts and feelings while gestures and movements become subtler in conversation.
Technologies Effects on Nonverbal Communication
As technology advances and as younger generations exposure to technological communication grows, it has been found that children might have a harder time picking up on nonverbal cues. According to Mark Bauerlein, a professor of English at Emory University, “We live in a culture where young people—outfitted with iPhone and laptop and devoting hours every evening from age 10 onward to messaging of one kind and another—are ever less likely to develop the “silent fluency” that comes from face-to-face interaction. It is a skill that we all must learn, in actual social settings, from people (often older) who are adept in the idiom. As text-centered messaging increases, such occasions diminish.”
This “silent fluency” is non-verbal communication and it is an important skill for developing confidence, friendships, and educational opportunities throughout a child’s life.
Types of Nonverbal Communication
- Facial Expressions: Facial expressions (specifically happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, anger, and contempt) have been found to be universal. Mastering the use of facial movements to express emotions is essential to not only acting but to communication in general.
- Body Movements: How someone walks, sits, stands, and holds themselves communicates a lot about who they are and how they feel. In mime, to show sadness, a student might walk slower and slouch. To show happiness, they might hold themselves up confidently and have a pep in their step!
- Gestures: Pointing, waving, nodding or shaking of a head are all examples of gestures. These small movements all have a meaning that can be different depending on culture. Pointing with one finger to show someone the way might be an accepted form of communication in one culture but extremely offensive in another.
- Space: Friends might stand close together in a circle and strangers might stand much farther apart. Physical space and distance in acting and mime is a fantastic way to convey relationships.
Miming is wonderful for heightening all of these nonverbal signals in children. It also provides them an opportunity to practice communicating in face-to-face interactions, even if they are participating in mime in an online environment.
Silent Scenes are just one way Drama Kids International offers practice in communication for children of all ages. Contact us today to learn more about the program and how our award-winning curriculum aids in the growth of confidence, speech, and social interactions.