POINT & PURPOSE
- To express the imagination and feelings through physical means.
- To created believable characters drawn from our social experience.
- To create a movement story that is both beautiful and telling.
RESIDENCY PROGRAM (1 week - 1 month)
The specific times of this residency are tailored to the needs
of the institution. The point and purpose is to realize performance
results engendered by the creative process. The goal is to actually
create, rehearse and perform a full presentation of the students
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
The immensely talented Keith Berger and Sharon
Diskin have performed as a team since 1985, delighting a wide
range of concert audiences in North America and Europe. Noted for
their exciting performance style and professional discipline, Sharon
and Keith have been well received at colleges, community concert
halls, art centers and legitimate theatres, Among these are New
York Citys La Mama, etc., The Mark Taper Forum inLos Angeles,
numerous encore presentations at the rock star, Princes
club in L.A., and two critically acclaimed runs at the Edinburgh
Festival in Scotland. Sharon and Keith have also performed on several
world cruises and both starred in the Off-Broadway mime musical,
Ezekiel. Since 1990 The Chameleons (Berger & Diskin) have
been two of the most popular and in demand artists touring for the
L.A. Music Center Music Division. Their programs for children are
some of the most sought after theatre in Southern California. Their
television appearances include featured roles on the "Wonderworks
"PBS special "Gryphon", and numerous guest
appearances on talk and variety programs in the U.S. and Great Britain.
Keith Berger adheres to no one "doctrine"
of physical theatre. His influences range from the classical French
pantomime of Barrault and Marceau to the forcefully dynamic American
Mime Theatre style. Keith was among the very first performers to
take his act on the streets of New York City. Since then he has
toured his one- man shows throughout the United States and Europe.
Among these concerts are featured performances at Lincoln Center,
The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Palm Beach Arts
Festival, and a Royal Command Performance for Princess Grace of
Monaco. Some of his T.V. and film credits include Red Skeltons
"Funny Faces", "Crossover Dreams", "Angel
Heart", "The Suicide Club" and most recently
a starring role on CBSs "Space Rangers".
Off-Broadway, Keith wrote and starred in "Broken Toys".
Sharon Diskin began her theatre career as
a child in Arizona acting in numerous stage productions and
composing music. She fell in love with the art of physical theatre
and mime in college when she had the good fortune to study with
a guest artist named Keith Berger. After graduating from Oberlin
College with a degree in Spanish she went on to train for six years
at The American Mime Theatre in New York City under the tutelage
of Paul Curtis. During this time she teamed up with Keith Berger
to form their very unique performance duo. A gifted teacher as well
as performer, she has taught physical theatre and mime at Cornell
University and at their studios in New York and L. A. As
a professional actress Sharon has played the leading roles in "The
Diary of Anne Frank", "Extremities", "Peter
Pan", "Miss Julie". Her film work includes
"Angel Heart" and
*Keith Berger and Sharon Diskin are married and
currently reside in Los Angeles with their two cats Max and Esmeralda.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF MIME
Mime originated in primitive society. These ancient
peoples used elements of theatre to satisfy their most basic needs.
They used gestures before speech to communicate; they told stories
of the hunt and of narrow escapes from their enemies through mimetic
Primitive man sensed his own spirituality when
he saw his image in the water and when he watched the mystery cycle
of life, death and birth unfold in both his family and nature. Gradually
he gave utterance to these manifestations through the creation of
myths, symbols, religion, and traditions.. Mime Theatre was performed
as a source of celebration and identification with nature, and it
served as one of the most vital means of communicating spirituality.
Mime theatre as a recognized artistic medium began
in the Far East where sophisticated plays depicting Gods, animals,
warriors, and mythical occurrences were performed by incredibly
The Western tradition of Mime has roots in ancient
Greece. The Dionysian Dithyramb was performed at festivals to honor
Dionysus. It was first spoken, then mimed. From this Mime play,
both tragedy and comedy evolved.
It was in Rome that the art of Mime reached its
greatest popularity. For a thousand years it was regarded as the
major theatre art of the entire Roman Empire. During the reign of
Augustus, 27 BC, Pylades and Bathyllus, two great mimes, so captured
the Roman people that riots between their fans were a common occurrence.
In the middle ages the traveling jesters served
as a model for comedic Pantomime practiced to this day. The Renaissance
brought about the rebirth of Mime as a major theatre form.
In Italy the Commedia DellArte was a Mime-based
form that entranced all of Italy. It was the impact of the Italian
companies playing both Commedia and silent dramas that gave birth
to the French Mime tradition. In the early 19th century
Jean Gaspard de Debureau captured all of Paris with his character
Pierrot, a pale love struck romantic in a white flowing costume
and black small cap. When Dubureau died his son Charles took his
place and began a formal school of Mime.
After World War I, Jacques Copeau continued the
teaching of French traditional Mime at The Ecole du Vieux-Columbier.
A student at this school , Etienne Decroix, went on to create a
modern form called Corporal Mime. From the Decroix school came the
world famous Mime, Marcel Marceau.
In 1952, Paul J. Curtis founded The American Mime Theatre in New
York City. The American Mime differs greatly from its French cousin.
Where as the French Mime tends toward physical portrayal of motion,
characters and concepts, The American Mime is based on real emotion
and empathy engendered by characters engaging in symbolic activities
Today Mime Theatre, though relatively rare, is
experiencing a resurgence. Those fortunate enough to see a truly
great Mime presentation make up an increasing enthusiastic audience
for this time honored tradition.
The following is a list of some very famous people
who are mimes or have incorporated mime into their performances.
Lucille Ball | David Bowie| Charlie Chaplin
Robin Williams | Buster Keaton | Red Skelton
Harpo Marx | Jackie Gleason.
PREPARATION FOR APPRECIATION
WHAT IS MIME
Simply put, Mime is the language of our feelings.
This exquisite art form is enacted through facial expression, movement
of the body, and dramatic presentation. Mime, while at times is
supported by music, is performed primarily without words. (At times
Mime is performed to narration.)
The mime, through a series of actions, freezes,
characters and plot engages our imaginations in such a way as to
give us the feeling that we, the audience, have has a hand in creating
the story. We, the audience, have colored, completed, and filled
in the spaces set up by the Mime during the course of the play or
The Mime created moments out of thin air which
are, at once, telling and beautiful.
WHAT IS PANTOMIME Pantomime is the art of
creating an imaginary environment within a blank space. Places and
things, such as moonscapes, storms, doors, rooms, walls, cars, balls,
and appliances can all be part of this imaginary world.
Pantomime inspires our imaginations and sense of
wonder. It is employed along with Mime to give the story a sparkling
sense of imagery and place.
Pantomime also refers to light physical comedy
and short comedic "skits".
When Pantomime is at its best, it created the illusion of reality.
IMPORTANT ELEMENTS THAT CREATE THE MIME
The mime performer must:
- Concentrate Focus ones attention to an uncommon
- Warm-Up Stretch and rigorously exercise the body
before performance or classes.
- Act Relate to the environment and to other characters
in a way that is believable. We must see the characters
- React Show true feelings in response to the actions
of another character. Show true feelings in
response top any given stimulus or event.
- Freeze The ability to arrest the entire
body into a moment in time and suspend it into
- Create Characters The ability to transform yourself
believably into different persons and things.
When done correctly, this will inspire a sense of recognition
and identification from the audience.
- Practice As with all learned techniques, practice
is the best way to improve and maintain skills.
- Have Fun If youre having fun learning or
performing Mime, we, the audience, will have
fun watching it!
- Create Movement The ability to move the body, hands,
and face to express an idea or emotion.
BASIC DIRECTIONS FOR CLASSROOM OR STAGE
The purpose of these directions is to create a
truly theatrical experience and to efficiently shape order from
what would normally be perceived to be random confusion or chaos.
These directions are easy to learn and will give beginners a real
- Students faces must always be seen by the audience, unless
precluded by special movement, costume, or plot devices (exception:
when a student turns to go to the back area of the stage. This
is called "upstage".)
- Never, ever, mouth words. This is where the students
must problem solve and create a way to express an idea that communicates
successfully without indicated words.
- Be as noiseless as possible. Avoid foot stomping, loud falls,
audible sighs, etc. These sounds detract from the "magic
spell" of the performed work.
- Students must never give stage directions to each other during
performance. The place for this is in rehearsal.