Friday, September 22, 2023

Legendary Mime Artist Celebrated Through Hamilton Performance

Think back. Did you notice the Google Doodle on March 22? 

The March 22 Doodle paid homage to legendary mime artist Marcel Marceau, who would have turned 100 on that date. Marceau became an international icon when he created Bip the Clown, who sported a striped top, white face paint and a battered hat adorned with a single flower.

But if you missed the Doodle, it’s not too late to celebrate the beloved mime.

From May 4 to 7, Tottering Biped Theatre will restage their celebrated Searching for Marceau, which has been presented across the country to rave reviews, even winning an award at the 2019 Toronto Fringe Festival.  The May production will be presented at the Royal Botanical Gardens’ Main Auditorium.

In this partly autobiographical production, a young man uses his discovery of mime, inspired Marcel Marceau (long considered the father of modern mime), to heal his challenging relationship with his biological father. At the centre of the production is Trevor Copp, Tottering Biped’s Artistic Director, who started as a busker in Hamilton before studying at the Marceau school of mime in Paris. 

It’s through mime that Copp has found his calling. Since his start as a busker and subsequent schooling, Copp has performed for over a hundred corporate events, developed and toured Searching for Marceau, Carnival of the Animals and other productions, found himself on the Cirque de Soleil performance roster, and has performed in several films. This is in addition to Copp’s career as a dancer, movement coach and director.

There’s a certain stereotype with mime performance, but in the creation of Searching for Marceau, Copp focuses on the storytelling aspects of mime and showcases it as a standalone artform. The play originally began as one told solely through mime and without words; however, through its evolution, Copp and the collaborators of Searching for Marceau (Richard Beaune and Robin Patterson) added monologues that are connected to Copp’s highly physical performance. 

Copp is quick to help audience members realize from the start that while much of the story is mimed, there’s much to be said as well. In the Toronto Fringe version, as soon as the first lights rise, Copp breaks the silence of the mime with an opening sentence.

Searching for Marceau is an hour in length. For Hamilton audiences, this will be the first time the play has been produced in the city since 2019, when the McMaster LIVELab presented the production as part of a research project. Following the Hamilton production, it went on to the Toronto Fringe, where it won acclaim, and subsequently, invitations nation-wide. Who knows where this performance may travel next- but for Hamilton audiences, the opportunity is now to partake in the search.

Who: Tottering Biped Theatre
What: Searching for Marceau
Length: 60 minutes
Where: Royal Botanical Gardens’ Main Auditorium (680 Plains Road West)
When: May 4, 5 and 7 at 7:30pm
Tickets: $23.60 through the Royal Botanical Gardens

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