Silent Rocco – thoughts from Irene Mawer

Although Rocco is not using the Irene Mawer technique, he is using a very clear technique, he is also telling a story, and best of all – he is not ‘gurning’. So many mimes today feel that they need to use over-the-top facial expressions. Fine! I am not going to say that you can’t do that, all I can say is that I feel that Miss Mawer would be turning in her grave if she could see what sometimes passes for mime today. I think that she would approve of Rocco, though, as I can see in his face and in his eyes the same look which I believe was in mine when I was training, a look of which my teacher approved and of which I approve. The eyes are the windows of the soul, and I can see the light of expression there, a light which is lacking in so many performers.

I can watch Rocco’s videos again and again and again, without getting bored. Sometimes they even make me laugh out loud, which is fairly rare for me when I am watching modern mimes. At other times, I see him struggle to push a cushion into place on a settee, a cushion which weighs next to nothing, but by the time he has wrestled with it three times, he must be absolutely physically exhausted! And it is only a cushion!

Rocco is one of the few performers that I have seen who reminds me of my own mime training. I must stress that our two techniques are entirely different, however, they are similar in that they are what I might call ‘clean’. His performances are focussed, and he doesn’t just bumble about the stage looking confused or gawping into mid air. Rocco trained in Berlin, and elements of Marcel Marceau’s technique can be seen in his style. Our two methods differ in that I never learned the ‘fixed point’ or ‘isolation’ techniques (you know, where the mime is trapped inside a glass box, or does the ‘moonwalk’ against a high wind). Rocco performs these techniques with absolute mastery, and I can’t find any fault!

In addition, Rocco sometimes reminds me of a magician, as if he is using mime to create illusions (as opposed to showing and explaining something real). Modern visual technology; music; and sound also play their parts in his performances. However, Rocco does not hide behind this technology, he does not use technology to mask poor technique. Rather, his technique is pure and is amplified and enhanced by the tricks of the digital camera.

In his video where he uses his voice to talk to camera and explain some aspects of his art, Rocco mentions about the mime scenes needing to be more than just doing the glass box, or just pulling a rope. Irene Mawer would have agreed with this, in that she would have expected a mime scene to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. She would have expected there to be a ‘point’ to the story. Even with a nature rhythm, where the body is used to express something from the natural world, there would still be a point. For example, with ‘fire’ the scene would perhaps start with smoke, the flames would be fanned by the wind until they leaped high, and gradually die down and become glowing embers. Without a story to watch, the audience will be bored.

When I looked at Rocco’s website, I was intrigued to see that it is possible to hire him for parties or corporate events, etc. I have heard of people who hire a magician for their wedding receptions, etc, but I have never met anyone who has employed a mime. I think that Rocco has hit on a unique method of how to use his skills and I wish that I had thought of it myself, many, many moons ago! It is an effective and imaginative way to keep mime alive and I wish him well.

Author: Janet Fizz Curtis

Janet Fizz Curtis is trained in the Irene Mawer Method of Mime and Movement and is now writing a book about the life of Irene Mawer.

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