Mimos Festival Perigueux August 1993

Feature in Issue 5-4 | Winter 1993

The Mimos Festival, which included dance-mime performances, opened with the internationally reputed French dance company Maguy Marin’s May B (1981) evoking the destitute atmosphere of Beckett’s plays. In postmodern style, dance, mime, and songs were confused as ten protagonists in sloppy attire with pasty white faces attempted to reach out to one another. Moments of burlesque humour alleviated the desolation and austerity of this work performed with technical perfection and dramatic intensity.

The Mimos Prize of 20,000 Francs was attributed to a group of virtually untrained and autodidactic young actor mimes, the Stoka Company from Bratislava created in 1991. Their piece Impasse consisted of brief scenes which satirised everything from over-romanticized love and sex to politics, opera, medicine, and the American way of life. The company created bold, Dadaist content in an iconoclastic, energetic and youthful form.

The French company Lartigue-Szerelem’s Portrait of Marjolaine was inspired by fifteenth Century Italian painting as well as by a Hungarian legend of the female vampire Countess Bathory, who massacred young virgins to rejuvenate herself with their blood. This sculptural dance piece performed by Marjolaine Zurfluth in an ultra slow rhythm portrayed a Madonna-like female who gradually revealed her sensual coquetry.

From France, La Mome Company, created in 1988 by Fanny Tirel who trained at the Schola Cantorum, presented Pythie, a narrative dance performed by four females and one male with stylised gestures revolving around the sexual aggressiveness of the female.

Inspired by the Caprichos of Goya, the Spanish Danat Danza Company presented The Sky is Covered with Bricks. Lively sensual games, interpreted with youthful buoyancy by four females and two males, recalled the vertigo of Goya.

Le Temps Fort Théâtre from France, begun in 1971, staged Middle of the World in which characters of four exotic tales in elaborate costumes and masks symbolised the divinities of water, earth, fire and air.

The Theatre of Shaman, founded in France in 1981 by Bruno Meyssat, staged Passacaille which invited the spectator into the world of Meyssat’s peasant childhood. In slow laborious rhythms recalling the passacaille court dance, the spectator watched two males and a female dine, remove clothes from a closet, and engage in humdrum Occupations.

Among the non-dance performances were the Russian, Litsedei Less 4 Company in a clown show entitled Moumie. Although the gags were somewhat drawn out, the spectator could not help but be enchanted by these clown’ joie de vivre.

The French Cotillard Company, founded by Jean Claude Cotillard in 1980, in All Men are Created Equal offered a sharp satire on job-market competition with non-stop slapstick gags chronometrically choreographed. Malsangre, performed in the shadow of the St. Front cathedral of Perigueux by the Teatro del Silencio of Chile, founded in 1989, traced the emotional trauma of the French poet Arthur Rimbaud from early age to his exploits in Abyssinia where he sought poetry in life.

Among the Festival street performances, Immobile Time, presented by the Hors Strate Company, offered the parading of two animal, vegetable and mineral creatures on stilts in medieval garments with stone faces.

Houdart and Heuclin, two French marionettists who trained with Jacques Lecoq, performed the Parade of Padox which revolved around Padox, a comic character recalling the Guignol theatre and the Tintin comic strips. Performing in the streets since 1990, Negrabox from France in Pesce Crudo (Raw Fish) excited the curiosity of spectators by sending out smoke and hand and face signals from holes in a big black box.

The Chantier Théâtre of Perigueux organised a street animation revolving around the mysterious appearances of a black egg of all sizes.

After the distribution of the Mimos Critics Prize to Stoka Company from Bratislava, the Spanish Xarxa Company began their Night of Magic fireworks, illuminating the town in a flamboyant closing of Mimos 93.

Daily press conferences open to the public were held on the Place St. Louis to introduce the artists of upcoming performances. A workshop by dancer-choreographer Cary Rick centred around mime, dance and the psychotherapy of movement.

With talent selected by artistic director Peter Bu and performances hosted by Senator Mayor Yves Guena, Deputy Mayors Jean-Jacques Ratier and Serge Salleron, and President of the Journées de Perigueux, Dr. Pierre Mullon, this eleventh Mimos Festival was a combination of exciting new movement and dance in an ambience of conviviality and warmth characteristic of Perigueux, a city which has been exposed to and enriched by the presence of other cultures and influences from Gallo-Roman times to the present.