In writing about San Francisco on my last post, I mentioned the influence the San Francisco Mime Troupe had on the popular-arts performance scene there. If you've seen their work, you've probably wondered why they label themselves a mime troupe. The answer lies in their early years under the direction of their founder, R.G. Davis (photo, right). This manifesto on mime and pantomime, written by Davis in 1962, shows the troupe's roots and still raises some interesting questions today.
What I liked about this when I first read it sometime back in the 70s were the clear distinctions Davis was able to make between a broad commedia style of physical performance and the more precious tradition of the white-faced pantomime artist. Now that I'm older and wiser (oh yeah, sez who?), I'm a bit more wary of dialectic reasoning where things are either this or that with no wiggle room. People who think like that can be very difficult to deal with! Still, I think it's a useful argument, a provocative read, at least if seasoned with a grain or two of salt. And although Davis was eventually replaced by a collective leadership and the troupe's performance style became less "mime-y," their work has in fact retained an essential commedia feel and flavor.
Anyway, it's only three pages, well worth your time, just be sure to click on "Fullscreen."
Method in Mime
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