Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The 2016 London International Mime Festival

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If I weren't in Costa Rica right now I'd be seriously wishing I were in London. Even if you've never been and might never go, it's good to know that the London International Mime Festival is now entering its 40th year. Since its inception in 1977, the festival has gone way beyond mime to encompass circus, clown, physical theatre, mask work, puppetry, and more. In the process, it has not only popularized a lot of deserving movement-oriented work, but has opened eyes outside the already converted. As the NY Times comments this week, "over four decades it has had a significant impact on British theater, disrupting the dominance of scripted plays —something that hasn’t quite happened the same way in the United States."

You can read the Times article here, but meanwhile here are some preview images and videos of five of this month's offerings that highlight physical comedy.

Svalbard (Sweden)

Svalbard bends the edges of contemporary circus and blends it with theatre, physical comedy and live music to create a truly original piece that you will remember for its surreal quality as well as its awe-inspiring skills.

BabaFish (Belgium)

Dominoes topple… an hourglass is overturned. Time is ever-present in this ephemeral retrospective of one man’s life, his scattered memories conveyed through acrobatics, movement, music and dance… Assisted by her father, an inventor by trade, Swedish-born artist Anna Nilsson has devised a Heath Robinson-esque set, where a ball bearing spins around weird and wonderful machinery and pendulums wave. It provides a poignant backdrop for an abstract tale about time running out, characterised by four performers and their unpredictable mix of acting, juggling, hand-balancing and singing.

Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, Paris (France)
By and with Jos Houben and Marcello Magni

"An entire performance history lurks behind this ticklish two hander, the opener for the London International Mime Festival, created by Jos Houben and Marcello Magni, two of contemporary theatre’s greatest clowns. This funny, heart-breaking show celebrates the pair’s relationship stretching back to the early 1980s with Complicite and ground-breaking shows such as A Minute Too Late and More Bigger Snacks Now. It also draws on the history of clowning from commedia dell’arte to the slapstick of 19th-century music hall and early 20th-century film... the show continually reaches out to the audience, playing us with a knowing sweetness. It’s a brief hour that gives the kiss of life to the ancient art of the gag." —Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

Familie Floez (Germany)

In Infinita, a cast of irresistible, larger-than-life characters are seen both as warring children, and then in later life as residents of an old people’s home. The wily games of nursery one-upmanship seem hardly to change with the passage of time; survival of the craftiest is still the rule of the day. Infinita plays out in a succession of increasingly hilarious scenes, combining poignancy, astute observation and some superbly skilled slapstick.

Trygve Wakenshaw (New Zealand)

NAUTILUS is the final part of rubber-limbed Trygve’s ‘underwater trilogy’, the follow-up to delirious, sell-out physical comedies KRAKEN (LIMF’15) and SQUIDBOY. Oozing with whimsy, dripping with charm and magnificently mad, Trygve is his own animator in a cartoon world. A master of risqué innocence, he trained with Philippe Gaulier, developing a uniquely eccentric style of mime-comedy that has won him legions of fans the world over.

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