Passing Through Kolin...

Feature in Issue 6-4 | Winter 1994

While in the Czech Republic last September, Tim Eagle just happened to be passing the Kolin International Mime Festival, and was pleasantly surprised to find some familiar, as well as new, faces.

It was a surprise you know, to be 800 miles from London, in a small blue car, in a town called Kolin thirty miles from Prague and find Trestle Theatre Company’s van parked behind a theatre that was hosting a small but prestigious mime festival in honour of a great Nineteenth Century Mime – ex-resident! A surprise and a delight indeed as I had happened upon day four of the Kolin International Mime Festival, a bi-annual event that aimed to bring together a selection of the best work in the mime, physical theatre, and visual performance field. Its programme, unfortunately unavailable to me now, included groups from Canada, Sweden, Holland, Slovakia and the UK (in the shape of Trestle, John Mowat and Nola Rae).

So, on parking said car, we set off for a day of cheap excellence. Entering the town square we were met by the sight of a trapeze frame being built, a puppet show in mid performance and five Dutch characters doing odd things with dough and fire and a griddle. These turned out to be some strays from Holland’s Dogtroep who were performing their own version of Get Stuffed as they created a production line that resulted in the most unimaginably unappetising pancakes possible, which the people of Kolin lapped up.

Next, Gluko, a French Canadian clown appeared, goggles and whip at the ready giving us thirty minutes of dangerously hilarious antics culminating in a tight rope walk from a lamp post across a rope over the six or so volunteers holding it. After that a slice of Swedish male angst amidst cellos and dancers allowed me to catch up on my sleep before the UK’s offering for the day, John Mowat in Leonardo and America. This was the first time I had seen John Mowat and I found his laconic style of impressionistic mime very funny and easy to enjoy, though I am not so sure he was to the taste of my white-faced friend beside me.

The evening ended with another bout of brilliantly messy object madness from the Dutch group followed by a magical circus show by the French Canadian troupe who mesmerised the people of Kolin and its lucky visitors with a display of late night death-defying trapeze, extraordinary balance, and surreal juggling.

Inspired and full up, we left. If only more festivals could gather such a density of quality work, the prospect of ever having another day like that would not seem so remote. Thank you Kolin Town Council.

This article in the magazine

Issue 6-4
p. 17