Central School Curriculum in 1930s.

Central School in 1930s.


Irene Mawer trained under Elsie Fogerty at the Central School of Speech and Drama in 1914/15/16.  Mawer had done some training and had taken paid employment before enrolling at Central, so she was already 21 years of age when she started there.  Fogie discovered that Mawer was what she called a ‘born mime’, though Mawer had no idea what this meant at the time (1).  Although Fogerty was herself trained in French mime by Felicia Mallet (2) at the Paris Conservatoire (3), Mawer states that “Elsie Fogerty never taught mime as such” instead she would ‘let fall’ her interest and knowledge of French mime while coaching Mawer in the role of Pierrot in a performance of Prunella by Laurence Housmann and Granville-Barker (4). This was the method by which Fogerty herself had been trained while at the Conservatoire: “Everything was taught on an ad hoc basis: ‘voice, articulation, gesture, even the history of the theatre, were dinned into the pupils during the study of an actual part.’” (5)


Over the years, Fogie gave Mawer nuggets of information about mime, and Mawer teamed up with Ruby Ginner, and through her met Effie Williams and learned the theory of how the physical body worked. Through trial and error, Mawer built up her own way of performing and teaching mime and this mime was used as the basis of Ginner’s Revived (Classical) Greek Dance.  Mawer taught mime wherever she could, including being employed by Elsie Fogerty to teach it at Central.  It was Mawer’s method that was eventually used as part of the curriculum at Central (6).


In the early 1930s, Mawer founded the Institute of Mime, which aimed to bring mime to a wider audience, having lists of teachers and performers, and also offering a standardised set of exams.  It isn’t clear whether the Institute of Mime offered only Mawer’s method of mime, or whether other options were available.  Certainly, Mawer knew of, paid attention to, and mixed with other people who taught mime and ensured that they had connections to the Institute.  For example, Michel Saint Denis and his pupils gave a lecture and demonstration of mime which was run under the auspices of the Institute of Mime (7), plus a second lecture at the AGM of the Institute of Mime in 1938.  However, I have not come across any information which would indicate that the method taught through the Institute was anything other than Mawer’s system.  Indeed, it was definitely Mawer’s method of mime that formed the syllabus for the examinations at the Institute of Mime (8).


In 1934, four pupils from the Central School of Speech and Drama passed their exams to be Teachers of Mime.  The exams were taken through the Institute of Mime and the candidates were: Lettice Haffenden; Yvonne Burgin; Betty Hopper; and Sheila Macleod. (9)


I have tried searching on the web for information about these four women from Central School.  I can see that there is some information about Lettice, but I can’t access it.  If anyone knows anything about the women, I would be very grateful to hear from you.  Thank you.


(1 – Fogie by Marion Cole, p.62 and The Link, July 1925, p.40)

(2 – Rinda Frye 2011 Elsie Fogerty and Voice for the Actor, Voice and Speech Review, 7:1, 89-94, DOI 10.1080/23268263.2011.10739526 https://doi.org/10.1080/23268263.2011.10739526 published online 22 Jul 2013)

(3 – Fogie by Marion Cole)

(4 – Fogie by Marion Cole, p.63)

(5 – Coquelin 1932, 15 in Rinda Frye p.91)

(6 – Fogie by Marion Cole, p.62)

(7 – Dancing Times, London, June 1936)

(8 – Fogie by Marion Cole, p.62)

(9 – The Link, July 1934, p.6)

Author: Janet Fizz Curtis

Janet Fizz Curtis is trained in the Irene Mawer Method of Mime and Movement.

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