Beyond Words - A Mime Festival in Crawley

Feature in Issue 4-2/3 | Summer/Autumn 1992

Every time I mention the Mime Festival to our Publicity Officer, he becomes ashen-faced and has to sit down for a while. Who can blame him, it does seem a reckless idea in these times of cutbacks but I think there is enough method in my madness to make it successful and hopefully an annual event.

Firstly, I've tried not to be too precious about what is included in the festival, my main criteria being the inclusion of work where the predominant means of communication is not words.

Secondly, I firmly believe that there isn't just one mime audience; each company attracts a different audience for different reasons and so diversity is of key importance.

The two linchpins of the festival show some of this diversity, a residency and performance of Trestle's new show State of Bewilderment and a visit from Paris by Théâtre du Mouvement – made possible by a grant from the European Arts Festival

We have had a long relationship with Trestle and with the help of the residency work and the focus of the festival we are making the quantum leap from the 120 seat Studio Theatre to the rather larger 820 seater Main Auditorium.

Théâtre du Mouvement proved a huge success at last year’s London International Mime Festival with Lettre au Porteur. Their work is described as an example of real Dramatic Art based on body language and on the scale would probably come closer to dance. As would the Kala Chethena Kathakali Troupe who appear at the beginning of the week.

The festival closes with the truly European flavour of Talking Pictures latest show Go West which features a Russian Director as well as Portuguese and British performers. Talking Pictures would probably come closest to what people would expect from a Mime Company but also attract a large audience, attracted to the humorous element in their work.

So that the festival can become a focus for practitioners as well as spectators, we will be hosting a seminar on Saturday 28 November on the future of Regional Mime Development in association with Mime Action Group.

So I think we have a formula for a successful if small-scale festival and the seeds of a larger event next year.

The Beyond Words Festival runs from the 21-29 November 1992.

This article in the magazine

Issue 4-2/3
p. 5