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Written on May 25th, 2012 , Arts-in-Ed, Performing, The Business of Art Tags: , , , ,

(Sigh.) Let’s face it, let’s let the truth be known. YES, I studied as a mime. I loved Shields and Yarnell (start with “The Breakfast Show” on Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=km1QRnzIKpI), Marcel Marceau (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lF0XMCssG0) and the Mummenshanz (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eazq_8jCOg), so it seemed natural to me to have intensive mime training as a part of my career development. I took workshops and courses, and enrolled in the recently renamed Dell ‘Arte School of Physical Theatre. As the official website beautifully frames it, Originally called the Dell’Arte School of Mime and Comedy, the School’s name was changed to The International School of Physical Theatre in the late 1980s as a result of the narrowing definition of ‘mime’ and a desire to investigate a broader vision of theatre and the work of the contemporary actor.”

The mid/late 80s — that’s when The Dark Years began.

Mimes were taken out of their invisible boxes and put into vodka bottles. Mimes were what people pretended to be after waaaaayyy too much to drink. Mime jokes and ‘death by mimes’ curses ran rampant. “What are you working on right now?” people would ask. “Mi– movement,” I would respond. “My movement?” “Ummm, yeeeah. Interpreting the palette of movement on the canvas of the self. My movement.” I was always good at BS. And I WAS studying many things, only one of which was mime. But admit to being a mime? No way. It was far safer to have some sort of odd fetish.

As the years passed, I kept up my mime practice—in secret, of course—because I felt it made my text-based work more succinct and my red-nose work funnier. I continue to enjoy the small degrees of tension and torque, the miniscule but dart-like gestures of face, knuckle, foot, or torso, the suspension of breath that holds an audience like a captured bird, all of which are results of my mime training. Net result? I actually think mime training should be a requirement in every performance conservatory program. Can I safely admit that in public? Hmmmmmm……

Until recently, I would have said, “No f-ing way.” However, this weekend I am performing as a mime for the third time in less than two years. And getting paid. !!!!! Have times changed? Are mimes back in fashion?? Will those of us who secretly watch the old masters on Youtube or who pretend to be obstructed by a wall, be able to come out of the (invisible) closet???

Who knows? What I know is this: at a time in my life when nearly 40% of my income is from Voice Talent work, that I have mime work is pretty funny. And you know what they say … a mime is a terrible thing to waste.

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