Hommage à Decroux

Feature in Issue 3-2 | Summer 1991

The following is the text from a mime piece by The Mime Project, a San Francisco based mime company of the mid-70s, entitled Hommage à Decroux. The words are based on our notes from Decroux’s classes in the early 60s - early 70s.

1. Mime is immobility…
2. Living immobility; it breathes.
3. When man was born, he arose and looked about and found the stars, the moon, the ocean, the trees, but he never saw when they began.
4. To be is to have weight.
5. Knowing when to act is the question of art.
6. Body movement is a violin, a piano, and sometimes a cloud.
7. Everything is beautiful as long as you do it on purpose.
8. A man and a woman. They are seated on a beach at the turn of the century. They are shaded by an old-fashioned canopy. She is sewing peacefully. He is close by watching her. Suddenly, with no sign of wind, the canopy rises and slowly falls. His eyes catch hers. ‘Je vous aime, Madame.’
9. Mime is a representation of work.
10. Work is the measure of man. Man is the measure of dance.
11. A dancer is a bird, flapping his wings, striving to reach the heavens. A mime is the bird sweeping down to earth.
12. One must find the just distance.
13. A horse is more beautiful held by reins. Drama is conflict.
14. Drama is always being on a precipice.
15. Security is ‘bourgeoise’.
16. No one knows when the thief will come.
17. He judged himself because he was surprised.
18. Most men try to make life rhythmical, concise, to get things to depart and arrive on time. Artists try to put accident into this rhythm.
19. Rhythm in movement equals verse in poetry.
20. Poetry troubles. Things reassure.
21. The enemies of art are utility, laziness and fear.
22. It is easier to go away from the truth.
23. A mime is both subject and object; like a surgeon who opens his stomach.
24. Man cannot see what he is able to touch, nor touch what he sees… (at the moment of embrace).
25. A polite man is altruistic; he would never stab the eyes of space.
26. He is straight. Reason is straight. Passion is round. It is with squares that you make circles.
27. Classicism exists in not showing everything. Everything in little; little in everything.
28. Meditation, thought, hesitation, petrifaction, doubt…
29. There is nothing new under the sun…
30. Beauty breathes. Black in painting, holes in sculpture, silence in music, and rest in mime.
31. Rest is a gentle thing, like the fall of night.

The words are out of context. They belong to a piece of visual theatre. They are the words selected by a group of people in a specific period of time. But perhaps today they offer a basis for theatre workers to discard, or adopt and expand.

Anne Dennis

Referenced Artists

This article in the magazine

Issue 3-2
p. 10