To imitate life…
Celebration Barn Theatre (Excerpts From A Playbill)
By Benny Reehl
The troupe went through two incarnations during the 1970’s, the 1st and the 2nd ensemble. Members incluced: Victor Azzam, Sarah Durkee, Brian Muehl, George Sand, Robert Dillard, Billy Fink, Denise Reehl, Benny Reehl, Bob Berky and Clare Sikoriak.
PATTERN… MAGIC… SONG… IMPRESSIONS… RHYTHM… BUFFOONERY… TUMBLING… MONOLOGUE… SILENCE… ABSURDITY… VAUDEVILLE… IMPROVISATION… SOUND… SATIRE… DIALOGUE… IMITATION… DRAMA… ILLUSION
NOTE: This article has been posted and digitally restored for educational purposes.
The illustration of the egg was created by Benny Reehl and Tony Montanaro as a metaphor for the touring troupe. The symbols in the egg were contributed by each member of the cast to create a unique piece of art.
MIME SPANS THE CENTURIES:
Historians trace mime back to 500 B.C. and credit Aristotle with its simplest definition: “to imitate life”. It first became associated with silence in the Roman Empire when a mime was compelled to be silent because he temporarily lost his voice. However, the wandering mimes of the Middle Ages gradually reintroduced sound and voice culminating in the 1500’s with a style of theatre called Commedia dell’Arte. The next major influence occurred in 19th Century France by way of an acrobat-mime named Gaspard Debureau. Two other Frenchmen, Etienne Decroux and Jean Louis Barrault evolved the art by using their bodies to express, animate and inanimate life without props, scenery or sound. This “illusionary” power of the solo performer is most famously represented by Decroux’s one-time student Marcel Marceau.
Celebration Mime Theatre, it has been said, “Has created a modern Commedia dell’Arte”.
THE SERPENT (Madison Avenue and the original sin the hard sell)
THE LEGEND OF TILLISTON TWITCHELL (An original Maine “Tall Tale”)
AT THE CIRCUS (One evening under the “Big Top”)
(Experience a summer at boys’ camp)
AN AMERICAN COLLAGE
(Overlapping impressions of American life)
WORK (A study in efficiency)
THE LOST SOUL (An adaptation of Saki’s short story)
THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER (A one-act play by Stephen Vincent Benet)
…and other mime pieces…
CHECKMATE!, GRAB BAG, LEAP FROG and RAVEL’S MOTHER GOOSE SUITE
TONY MONTANARO’s activities now center at his residence, summer theatre and school at South Paris, Maine, where in 1972 he established a resident company of nine and where he teaches professionals and theatre. Established at the CELEBRATION MIME THEATRE, his theatre barn will schedule performances on weekends each summer in presentations which Montanaro directs. Montanaro is at the helm as Artistic Director of the company he has formed and produces with co-director Benny Reehl (originator of the Essence Time Theatre) the CELEBRATION MIME THEATRE regional tours each season. Grants from the Maine State Commission on the Arts and from the National Endowment on the Arts nurtured the CELEBRATION MIME THEATRE and enabled completion of its major work “An American Collage”, and the continuing enlargement of its repertoire.
MONTANARO is one of the founders of the New World Mime Theatre, Inc., a non-profit organization, established to foster the developmental and educational training program and facilities where the art of mime may flourish to create new mime and mime dramas and new theatre audiences.