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The Mime Company Brings Silent Holiday Cheer

The Mime Company will partner with the Theatre and Interpretation Center to bring their silent brand of storytelling to the stage.

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November 21, 2008 | by Judy Moore
Video produced by Matt Paolelli

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The Mime Company, an award-winning professional ensemble, will partner with the Theatre and Interpretation Center (TIC) at Northwestern University to bring their silent brand of storytelling to the TIC stage in early December.

The Chicago-based group will present three public performances of "A Holiday Evening of Mime" at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, at the Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, on the University's Evanston campus.

The Dec. 5 evening performance has been designated as press night for Chicago-area theater reviewers, as the production will continue its December run at the Raven Theater in Chicago, from Dec. 11 to 28.

A private Dec. 5 matinee will be performed for Evanston/Skokie School District 65 elementary students who participate in the district's After School Childcare programs. This matinee performance is made possible through an Evanston Community Foundation grant awarded to The Mime Company and District 65, so that local students may experience live theater in a professional setting.

Under the direction of Artistic Director Eliot Monaco, "A Holiday Evening of Mime" will feature Monaco, Production Manager Amanda Brown, and six other company members, including Northwestern senior Julie Milligan, Northwestern alumni Kevin Stevens, Chris Ahern and Sarra Kaufman, and Chicago actors Noah Lepawsky and Alexander Knapp.

"Every year, our ensemble members create new works for our annual show," said Monaco. "This year, we had the advance opportunity to extend the run of our production. We therefore chose to endow the show with a seasonal theme and create new stories that are connected to our personal experiences of the holidays. Since we have a gigantic repertoire, some of our existing holiday pieces also will be modified for our "A Holiday Evening of Mime."

With the holiday theme added to this year's family-friendly production, company members will use their facial expressions and body movements to portray individuals or objects ranging from hectic Christmas shoppers and crazed gift wrappers to a group of traditionally clad carolers and a string of blinking Christmas lights.

One of the show's highlights will be "Ballet Recital," a whimsical clown piece performed to "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" from Tchaikovsky's Christmas ballet "The Nutcracker Suite." The piece starts out simply and gracefully, and then gradually "devolves" into utter chaos. "Xmas Lights" is a short comedic work that calls for three mimes to portray a string of blinking Christmas lights. Since one of the "bulbs" refuses to cooperate, the skit requires the actors to give personality to an object and create rhythm and disruption strictly with their hand gestures. "Carolers" is a revised comic piece about a group of accomplished carolers who encounter an unfriendly audience. "Seasons" is a physically challenging work that requires great strength, as all the company members use their bodies to depict a large tree as it goes through the full seasonal cycle of changes from winter, spring, summer and fall and back to winter.

"The holidays offer us a unique opportunity because so much of our silly humanity emerges during this time of the year," said Brown. "There is something about the season that brings out the joy and sorrow of the human experience that shows how much all of us are the same. However, not all of the pieces in the 2008 show will have a holiday theme. Other dramatic, comedic, lyrical or metaphorical plays without words will focus on the great and small struggles we all face in life."

The Mime Company, an independent ensemble, is an outgrowth of Northwestern University's Theatre department and the training of renowned acting teacher and former Northwestern theater professor Bud Beyer. The company has performed its original productions in the Chicago area and throughout the state of Illinois and toured nationally and internationally. The Mime Company also conducts many short-term and long-term educational residencies in the art of mime for school children of all ages, adults, special education groups, Chicago-area public schools, as well as other educational organizations and theatre workshops.

Single tickets for "An Evening of Mime" at Northwestern University's Josephine Louis Theater are $20 for the general public; $18 for seniors aged 65 and older, Northwestern faculty and staff, and area educators and administrators; and $10 for children and full-time students with valid IDs. The Northwestern run of this production is partially sponsored by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council through its Artstour Program.

To order single or group tickets by phone, call the Theatre and Interpretation Center Box Office at (847) 491-7282 or visit http://www.tic.northwestern.edu.