21 February 1935, Birmingham Mail

Birmingham Mail 

21 Feb 1935 


Title of Newspaper Article:  Mime 


We have seen from my recent blog posts that Irene Mawer, through her Institute of Mime in association with the Women’s Institute (WI) gave lecture-demonstrations in Scotland and in York.  Today’s newspaper clipping gives us advance notice that the same demonstration, seemingly without the lectures, was then to be given in London, at the Rudolph (sic) Steiner Hall. 


It would seem that the same performers from the Scottish production probably attended, as the number of 100 corresponds with that previous lecture-demonstration.  This, indeed, must have been a sight to behold.  It is unlikely that all 100 participants would have been on stage all at the same time, but I can well imagine that there would have been some magnificent crowd work, with plenty of action on stage. 


The show covered historical eras from classical Greece to modern times.  The newspaper states that there were; Franco-Italian comedies, which I would take to mean Commedia dell’Arte – certainly a huge part of the Irene Mawer Method of Mime and Movement.  For these, the performers would have dressed in traditional costumes and used traditional music – the scene must have presented a colourful scene full of movement and various emotions.  I was surprised to read about the mime scenes from different countries, eg, England, Hebrides, Russia, France, Italy and Sicily.  As a student, I don’t recall too much focus on learning how to portray different nationalities – that was more a speciality of dancing classes. 


The standard of the performance is likely to have been very high.  I am certain that the Ginner-Mawer students would have been excellent, and they were joined by students from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), and also the Central School of Speech and Drama.  All three Schools had high reputations. 


As a footnote, the article ends with information that Miss Mawer would be giving lecture-demonstrations and practical mime classes in Birmingham at the end of March (1935).  I wonder if this was in conjunction with Pamela Chapman?  Miss Chapman went on to create her own excellent reputation through the Birmingham School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art (BSSTDA – now called the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire).    The BSSTDA was definitely established in or by 1936 at the Queen’s College Chambers on Paradise Street in Birmingham and in 1937 Irene Mawer was a guest lecturer (possibly their first one) and the pair stayed friends and colleagues until Irene Mawer died in 1962. 


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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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