Circus Smirkus’s Rob Mermin Presents: Marcel Marceau and Silent Films

During a long Vermont winter (there is no other kind), Circus Smirkus's Rob Mermin watched 100 silent movies. Thus was born Silents Are Golden: A Celebration of Silent Cinema. Originally conceived for the Green Mountain Film Festival, Mermin is bringing his presentation to Thetford VT on January 25. It is part of a pop-up weekend performance described by one reviewer as “a visual feast;” Rob will share film clips and commentary. The following night, January 26, Mermin will present Adventures in Mime and Space: The Legacy of Marcel Marceau.

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In 1987, Mermin founded Circus Smirkus, a homegrown Greensboro, Vermont-based troupe, "to provide a place where kids could follow their own dreams right into the circus ring."  But Mermin's training and interests go beyond the circus to what he calls, quoting Marcel Marceau, "the silent language of the soul."

Marceau, perhaps the world's most famous mime, was a mentor to Mermin, and the two shared a teacher, the legendary Etienne Decroux. Marceau performed only one time under the big top, and it was in Middlebury, VT, at a 1999 benefit for Circus Smirkus. (See photo, top, of Marceau and Mermin.) Adventures in Mime and Space includes rare film clips of Marceau and Decroux teaching and performing.

Rob Mermin

Contemporary audiences remember Marceau in traditional mime mode, white-painted face, graceful gestures. Few know that he was active in the French Resistance in World War II after losing his father to the concentration camp at Auschwitz. Coincidentally, recent news reports of the death of Georges Loinger on December 28, 2018 (age 108 years), another French resistance fighter credited with smuggling over 350 children to safety in Switzerland, mentions that "he was helped by his cousin Marcel Marceau." (Click here to read the story in the New York Times.)  In 2001, Marceau was awarded the Raoul Wallenberg Medal for his own work in saving children from deportation.

Silents Are Golden and Adventures in Mime and Space will take place on their respective evenings at the Parish Players' Eclipse Grange, 193 Academy Road, Thetford VT at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and students. Discount for both shows: $35 for adults, $25 for seniors and students. Reservations are advised and can be made online or my calling 802.785.4344.

Like you, dear friend, I live to enlighten dreams. It is our common task to bring light to the art we love, the Silent Language of the Soul.”  —excerpt from a letter from Marceau to Mermin

(Photos courtesy of Rob Mermin)


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