it is maybe worth reflecting on the story of the world's greatest mime artist. the man upon whom all other mime is judged against and the spoof jokes about sliding along an invisible sheet of glass or caught trapped in a box are based. This is who he was . . . . . . . .
Marcel Marceau, born Marcel Mangel, was a French Jew, originally from Strasbourg.
His father was murdered in Auschwitz.
During his teen years, Marceau became active in the French Resistance, in a unit commanded by his cousin, Georges Loinger. In the Resistance, Marceau was both a forger of false documents for people fleeing the nazis and a resistant who smuggled several hundred Jewish children to safety in Switzerland. It was while clandestinely moving these young people that Marceau, in order to keep them calm, quiet and entertained, first began to experiment with mime.
|Erich Lessing Marcel Marceau, Paris 1951|
He also credited his experience during the war and the murder of his father with the tragic tone of much of his mime performance. As he later said: “The people who came back from the camps were never able to talk about it. My name is Mangel. I am Jewish. Perhaps that, unconsciously, contributed towards my choice of silence.”
|another Lessing portrait of Marceau 1951|
“I have designed my style pantomimes as white ink drawings on black backgrounds, so that man’s destiny appears as a thread lost in an endless labyrinth… I have tried to shed some gleams of light on the shadow of man startled by his anguish.”
Marcel Marceau, 1965