- noun (written as MIME)a standard that defines a way of sending files using electronic mail software.
- (written as MIME)Acronym for Multipurpose Internet mail Extensions. A protocol utilized to transfer non-text files such as audio or video via email, without said files being converted into ASCII. Also called MIME protocol.
- A wordless form of entertainment, in which movement and gestureare used to communicate. The term comes from the Greek word mimos,meaning imitator. Early Greek mime is thought to have originated inabout 581 BC in Megara; it had some basic dialogue but emphasizedphysical action. Surviving examples of Greek mime are mainly burlesquesof myths or satirical playlets about domestic situations.
Small troupes of Greek mime artists probably performed atbanquets in the 5th century BC, making them the earliestknown professional entertainers. The troupes included women, manyof whom were also prostitutes. The performers wore distinctive costumesbut no masks; mime performers were never admitted to membership ofthe Artists of Dionysus. In Greek southern Italy a type ofmime play known as the phlyax became popular.
The earliest mime artist known to us by name was the RomanLivius Andronicus (284 - 204 BC). According to tradition,he turned to mime when his voice failed after a series of performances.In Imperial times the mimus, a type of bawdy knockabout farce,and the performances of the lascivious pantomimus becamepopular. The former often involved displays of nudity andsometimes included real on-stage executions. The licentiousness andanti-Christian satire of these performances led to the Church excommunicatingall mime performers in the 5th century AD.
Many elements of the Roman pantomime survived in the 16th-centurycommedia dell'arte, which was in turn the main source ofmodern mime. In England the dumb show, a section of a playperformed without words, was popular in the Elizabethan and Jacobeanperiods but almost disappeared after 1620. Hamlet (1600)includes a dumb show enacted as part of the play-within-a-play, whileWebster's The White Devil (1612) features two dumb shows.
Modern mime is usually performed to music and without props(although they may be used). Many of its conventions were devisedin the early 19th century by the great French Pierrot Jean-GaspardDeburau (see Baptiste). Another Pierrot, étienneDecroux (1898 - 1991) was sometimes known as 'the father of modernmime' because he developed a systematic language of gesture for thegenre. Other famous French mimes include Jean-Louis Barrault,who played the part of Deburau in Baptiste (1946) and the filmLes enfants du paradis (1945), and Marcel Marceau.