Isabel Chisman and the W.I. 1935

Bath and Wilts Chronicle

29 June 1935

The sole purpose of this tiny clipping is to inform the good people of Bath that before the commencement of their next Council meeting, there will be a lecture-demonstration of mime!

Is this the local Council?  As in local government?  What a strange topic to choose for the opening talk!  However, does this mean that shortly before WW2 that mime was being taken rather more seriously than it is nowadays?

The subject “The teaching of mime to untrained people” hits the nail directly on the head as far as the intentions of the Institute of Mime are concerned – while it may sound a bit condescending to our modern ears, when put into context for that era, I do understand where she was coming from.  Perhaps today we would say ‘beginners’ rather than ‘untrained people’ – or perhaps not!  Certainly the term is a correct and honest one, engendering Miss Mawer’s belief that a training in mime will lead to self confidence. 

The notice states that there was to be a discussion following the lecture-demonstration.  I wonder if the Council records still exist?  That will be one branch of my research which will be extremely interesting to follow up.

The person giving the talk is Miss Isabel Chisman.  By 1934, Miss Chisman and Miss Gladys Wiles had written a book entitled ‘Mimes and Miming’ and given that it was Irene Mawer, via the Institute of Mime, who asked Miss Chisman to give the lecture, it could perhaps be assumed that Miss Chisman and her book were teaching the Irene Mawer Method of Mime. 

Isabel Chisman went on to write other books about mime.  The books are available on the internet, and if anyone has one in their personal collection I would be interested to see a few scanned pages so I could identify if the method is indeed the same.  Please do contact me.

Thank you to Mick Wallis for information on the drama side of the Women’s Institute (WI) in the 1930s, which is where I found the Chisman link.  The WI notes also state that by 1936 Isabel Chisman was on their list as being an ‘expert’ on the subject of mime, with good adjudication and speaking skills.

Irene Mawer’s involvement in drama in education has been overlooked by the historians.  Please help her to be recognised by the algorithms by liking/sharing/commenting, etc, so that she will be more easily found in web searches.  Thank you.

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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