Connecting Rose Bruford and Irene Mawer

Connecting Rose Bruford and Irene Mawer

In this blog post, I will explain how Rose Bruford and Irene Mawer are strongly connected through the art of mime.  Bruford was a pupil of Mawer, and was strongly influenced by her, but was also open to other styles of mime, such as that of Michel Saint-Denis.

Irene Mawer trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama under Elsie Fogerty during 1914-16.  As well as being a student at the Central School, Irene Mawer was also a teacher there, having been employed by Miss Fogerty to teach mime, starting at some point before 1925 (The Link, July 1925, pp.40,41).  Rose Bruford had been a student at the Central School c.1921-24, which is roughly the same time that Irene Mawer began teaching mime there.  In addition, other teachers at Central had trained at the Ginner-Mawer School of Dnce and Drama.  The Ginner-Mawer School was first established in 1916 and once the students began to graduate, Elsie Fogerty employed some of them as teachers at Central School.  It goes without saying that probably all of the Ginner-Mawer old girls had learned Classical Greek Dance, under the tuition of Ruby Ginner.  As part of the syllabus for Greek Dance, the students would have been required to learn mime with Irene Mawer, as the Greek Dance could not be taught without it; the Irene Mawer method of mime is a fundamental part of the Ruby Ginner method of Revived (now called Classical) Greek Dance.  It follows that Rose Bruford may well have been taught mime at Central School by Irene Mawer herself, or if not, then by someone who was trained by Irene Mawer.

Rose Bruford achieved the Honours Diploma from Central in 1924, but it is not known if this included a mime element.  (Source is Rose Bruford’s CV, in the archives of the Rose Bruford College.) Rose Bruford’s CV also shows that in 1927 she attained her Certificate in Greek Dancing from the Ginner-Mawer School of Dance and Drama, so she would have automatically learned mime from Irene Mawer.  In addition, Rose Bruford’s CV also shows that in the early 1930s she passed mime exams at the Institute of Mime in London (Honours Certificates for both Teacher and Performer); then she became an examiner for the Institute of Mime; held the position of Honorary Secretary of the Institute of Mime and became a Fellow there.

Rose Bruford went on to teach at the Royal Academy of Music (RAM) and also at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) both c.1939, as well as at her own school, which she opened in 1950.  RADA was already teaching mime in 1939, the teacher was Madam Cavalazzi, a fiery Italian, former ballerina (source: Atkins, 1994:21,22 in Mark Evans thesis), however, the RAM qualification known as the LRAM (Mime), which was available to external candidates, was set up by a teacher (who is un-named) who had been trained by Irene Mawer.  This was prior to 1954 and could possibly be referring to Rose Bruford.

In her book ‘Teaching Mime’ (1958), Rose Bruford acknowledged her gratitude to Irene Mawer for the mime training and she also said that Michel Saint-Denis had been an inspiration to her (he had his own method of mime).  Mawer and Saint-Denis would have known each other because Saint-Denis had links with the Institute of Mime, though their styles were quite different.  Rose Bruford also thanked Helga Burgess for her help and advice – another stalwart of the Ginner-Mawer School.

I hope to find out how much of Rose Bruford’s mime technique was Irene Mawer, and how much was other styles.

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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