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The Chameleons: Keith Berger & Sharon Diskin



  • 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’ work.


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 City’s La Mama, etc., The Mark Taper Forum inLos Angeles, numerous encore presentations at the rock star, Prince’s 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 Skelton’s "Funny Faces", "Crossover Dreams", "Angel Heart", "The Suicide Club" and most recently a starring role on CBS’s "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

"Histoires D’Amerique"

*Keith Berger and Sharon Diskin are married and currently reside in Los Angeles with their two cats Max and Esmeralda.



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 description.

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 skilled artists.

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 Dell’Arte 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.



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 scene.

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.


The mime performer must:

  1. Concentrate Focus one’s attention to an uncommon degree.
  2. Warm-Up Stretch and rigorously exercise the body before performance or classes.
  3. Act Relate to the environment and to other characters in a way that is believable. We must see the characters think.
  4. React Show true feelings in response to the actions of another character. Show true feelings in response top any given stimulus or event.
  5. Freeze The ability to arrest the entire body into a moment in time and suspend it into complete stillness.
  6. 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.
  7. Practice As with all learned techniques, practice is the best way to improve and maintain skills.
  8. Have Fun If you’re having fun learning or performing Mime, we, the audience, will have fun watching it!
  9. Create Movement The ability to move the body, hands, and face to express an idea or emotion.


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 advantage.

  1. 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".)
  2. 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.
  3. Be as noiseless as possible. Avoid foot stomping, loud falls, audible sighs, etc. These sounds detract from the "magic spell" of the performed work.
  4. Students must never give stage directions to each other during performance. The place for this is in rehearsal.


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