22 February 1935, Aberdeen Evening Express
Mimes of Many Periods
Part of the role of the Institute of Mime (which was founded by Irene Mawer) was to enable mime performances to take place around Britain, with all participants working to the same high technical and expressive standards.
In this newspaper clipping (see attached photo), we read that the Institute of Mime arranged for Edinburgh actors to travel to London to perform ‘Mimes of Many Periods and Nations’, not least among them being Scottish ballads.
As well as performers from Edinburgh, there were also actors from the prestigious Royal Academy of Drama (RADA) who were taking part. I think that this is added evidence that the Irene Mawer Method of Mime was possibly taught at RADA. It stands to reason that if the Institute of Mime was working to Miss Mawer’s syllabus, then any presentation (such as the one noted in this press cutting) which was given by the Institute of Mime would use her technique. The other possibility, of course, is that Miss Mawer simply ‘borrowed’ the actors and they had trained in mime independently of RADA.
Period movement, showing how people from different centuries would have walked, or sat, or bowed and curtsied, was an important part of the Irene Mawer’s mime syllabus and required a detailed study of clothing from all periods of history. The student of mime would have had a lot of reading to do and in my own case, my teacher (Mrs Durling) ensured that I copied out all of the information in long hand – no small undertaking.
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2 thoughts on “22 February 1935, Aberdeen Evening Express”
Well done Janet. Interesting research indeed and an important tribute to a person who helped so many people and drama schools to become more aware of the importance and interconnectedness of all the rhythms and patterns of life and theatre.
Mime, for Irene, was even more than the great art of visual storytelling. It was a shared journey of the imagination between the performer and the audience in which both were active participants. Speech, too, was not just about moving and shaping a volume of air rhythmically and with skill across the larynx but also a way of awakening the minds and imaginations of others. The theatre of illusion she understood to be not so much about escape from reality but a way of entering more deeply into our common human experience and a way of expressing and broadening our natural empathy.
Irene was a quiet, very private person. She was a kindly though demanding teacher. It is good that her insights and dedication to theatre as a necessary, natural and life-enhancing experience for everyone whatever their abilities and disabilities is being celebrated through this web-site. She was an important pioneer of drama in education and in rehabilitation.
Best wishes for a long and productive exposition of her personality and work and a lively and positive online discussion of her ideas and teaching.
Thank you so much for this comment. It an honour for me to have an input from someone who not only knew Miss Mawer, but who was actually trained by her. Your observations are very important, and I will create a separate post so that your thoughts are highlighted outside of the Comments section.