The Misunderstood Art
| We have all seen or heard things like "Shoot
the Mime" (no silencer needed) or "The only good mime is a dead
mime". During the 80's in New York, and I am sure other places as
well, mimes were like cockroaches popping up all over the place.
When I began my training in New York it seemed like on every corner
there was a mime stuck in a box, pulling a rope or being a
mechanical man (Robot). The American people soon became tired of
this and Mime began it's down fall. I have seen
Movies where; Mimes get beat up (Bill Irwin in Scenes From a Mall
with Bette Midler) and even shot. The shooting was probable
the funniest or tragic: two bank robbers were escaping from a
robbery in a car when the passenger saw a Mime and told the driver
to stop and back up. The Driver did as asked and the passenger
proceeded to shot the Mime. Mimes at that time and even now, to some
degree, are considered a Joke. This for me is Tragic!!
At a mime conference in Philadelphia, during the 80's a representative of a major New York Newspaper 'The Village Voice" stated they would never review another Mime show because of the poor quality of the performance. The representative mentioned that if you believe you have something of value to offer you should change your name. Thus was born "New Vaudeville, Moveitions and Modern Mime." Stefan Niedzialkowski attended this conference and related the story to me. Stefan had been a Mime for about 17 years at that time and was not about to change what he called himself. Mime roots date back to ancient Greece, it has a great history and should be allowed to move on and develop. To give it another name denounces it's roots and all those Great Mime Artists that have come before us.
The problem arose from the fact that some of the Tricks, we could say, of creating Mime Illusions, on the surface, are quite easy to learn. For example I could do the Robot, before I ever studied Mime. When I was a School Teacher I had a Mime book and with some practice I was pulling ropes, climbing stairs, etc. I could empress my friends and family but, as I learned later after studying Mime this had very little to do with Mime as an Art Form. This story is similar to many peoples story. I have friends some very talented that went to France to study Mime and due to their talent picked up some of the technique quite quickly. They returned to New York and incorporated what they had learned into their street shows. Now I know I am walking on thin ice here and I do not mean to offend anyone because some of the things they were doing was and still is very good but it is only a small segment of Mime. The American people were led to believe that this was Mime and having never seen anything like it before were impressed. The first time I saw the "Robot" I was very impressed myself but when there is a Robot on every corner the impact soon wears off. There were and are very few opportunities for the public to see Mime as a Theatrical Experience.
E-Movement Theater is dedicated to trying to change this