The artist that established mime as a supreme art form, the poet of silence that was, after Worl War II, the artist who assured the rebirth of pantomime art, died yesterday (22/09/2007). Considered by many the Picasso of mime, the universality of his message, able to bring together audiences separated by anything else, was recognized by the United Nations, that elected him "Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Second World Assembly on Aging".
For years on end, with a touching sensibility, the fragile and beautiful image of the harlequin has fiercely condemned laziness, selfishness, cowardice, pettiness, misery and the arrogance of human kind, elevating mime into levels never before reached and holding high the liberating and ever-lasting torch of artistic expression.
Born on March 22nd, 1923 in Strasbourg, in the east of France, his youth was marked by the spectre of nazi persecution, the death of his father in the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944 and his active participation in the French Maquis. This strengthened his character and spiked his desire to develop a work that would contribute to the creation of a better world, so, at the age of 23, he enrolled in Charles Dullin's School of Dramatic Art.
Marcel Marceau's Compagnie de Mime, the only company in the world dedicated to the art of mime, performed, during the 50s and 60s in the most important theatres in France and in the world and Marceau got to work with some of the most important people in cinema, such as Roger Vadim, in "Barbarella" (1968) and Mel Brooks, in "La dernière folie" (1976).
In 1947, with his own company already established, and taking the great silent movie actors as a reference, such as Chaplin - who he immitated as a child - and Keaton, he created his famous character "Bip", who accompanied him throughout his entire life and became popular for his white face, baggy clown trousers, sailor shirt and bodily expressiveness, frail only when it came to his appearence.
He performed in the best theatre rooms, all over the world and, in 1978, created, with his own disciples, after his company went bankrupt, the École Internationale de Mimodrame de Paris, Marcel Marceau (International School of Mimodrame of Paris, Marcel Marceau), in which he taught, not only mime, but also dance and acrobatics. In 1997 he celebrated, with a huge success, in Paris, his 50 years of showbusiness, with the show "Pantomimes de Bip" and "Le chapeau melon". But he didn't stop from returning to the stage and, in 2000, he put together a tour with the show "Les premiers adieux de Bip", which continued in 2002 with "Le retour du mime Marceau", followed by a new tour in 2005 through South America with "Le meilleur de Marceau", which included an historic performance in Cuba.
"Miming is an art that hypnotizes. It's a universal language that, like music, doesn't know any boundaries or nationalities", he said. "If laughter and tears are a trait of humanity itself, then every culture is reflected in our art".
Kudos to you, Marceau!
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