| A memorable dinner with Marcel Marcel Marceau in Paris, November 2004|
Left to Right: Victoria Labalme, Marcel Marceau, Haruka Moriyama, Gregg Goldston, Max Nourissat, Alexander Neander
"After I die, you'll tell people that "the mime" as a performer is the violin of all the instruments in a symphony orchestra."
This is what Gregg told me in a small bar near Cap 21 Studios, where he used to teach mime and physical comedy from 2001 to 2004. We often spent after-class hours there, hearing his stories about the art of mime and its philosophy.
(Yes, Gregg is alive and actually very healthy. But I decided to share this story much earlier than he asked.)
Feeling the depth and significance of the word "violin" in his voice and gaze, I had no clue what he meant by "violin".
As I wrote previously, rich musicality called "The Musicianship" in mime performance develops overtime while we train our muscles by cubically defining and coiling body parts and also train our DNA by listening to different types of music constantly.
If we hear the general term "rhythm" or "musicality", the word can mislead us to an intellectual image of it like that on a sheet music. However, as I kept working with Gregg, I started to catch a glimpse of a whole new world he called "Musicianship", which was not at all intellectual, but was much more tactile and forceful, where a lot of breath was used, where the rhythm became thicker and three dimensional, more vividly colorful and subjective as if the sound was generated within the musician's organs and exploded as it was projected towards the audience.
This was beyond what I used to understand as "rhythm" on a sheet music. That is why, I think, Gregg started to call it "The Musicianship", instead of "musicality".
Last summer, I almost accidentally happended to perform one of my plays with Stephan Grappelli's short violin tune called "Misty". All of a sudden what Gregg meant by "The mime is the violin" made sense to me. I think it could happen to me then for two reasons.
One was that I needed to improvise a lot and shorten my play to less than half the length of my original play while I was on stage. That condition forced me to listen to the music more carefully than usual. And secondly, that was the first violin tune I used for my play, and in the wings I was actually thinking back the very quote I heard in the bar a decade ago. "The mime is the violin... What could that mean to me now..."
What I learned from Grappelli on stage that day became one of my important milestones. For I needed to deeply focus on the music, my visible thoughts naturally reflected the intensity of his violin sounds, and my acting got more layers of rhythms which I never had before!
As you know, a violin has a bow to rub against the strings back and forth. That edgy but delicate contact of the bow and strings creates the unique intensity of the vivid violin sounds. The way violin notes sustain is very different from other instruments.
In order to sustain a violin note, the player must keep creating the new "current" sounds which is the "current" contact of the instrument. In other words, the violin sounds is less round, more square, vivid and raw, like the way our visible inner thoughts want to be seen by the audience.
But "reverb" in, for example, piano notes is not really a "current" sound, but an extension and reflection of a "past" sound, so it is not as keen or intense as a sustained violin sound.
The characteristics of the violin sounds can most dexterously and intensely sculpt and resemble our delicate but amplified "visible" human thoughts.
"After I die, you'll tell people that "the mime" as a performer is the (visual) violin of all the instruments in a symphony orchestra.
Firstly, that our technical level is not only most comparable to the skill required to be a solo violinist.
And secondly and the most important to share is this: If we compared how we use our body, how we project our thoughts, suspend and coil, and how we stretch time...
Is most comparable to a violin.
Consequently, for the past 10 years, I've considered myself a human violin." - Gregg Goldston
We wish you magical holidays filled with joy, laughter and art of mime.
--- We will see you in 2014!
Written by Haruka Moriyama
For more information about The Goldston Moriyama Institute for Mime, our Personal Mime Training Programs in New York City, or our Summer Mime Intensives, please contact us at the links listed below.