If you thought you need to hold placards, shout slogans and occupy the streets to engage in a meaningful dialogue on an issue of the magnitude of climate change, you could be wrong. Perhaps, the silence of expressions would be more profound a response, as Markus Schmid, an artiste of international fame, believes.
The reputed mime artiste, who was in Kochi for an international workshop organised by E-ProF at Udyan Convention Centre, is touring the world, educating people about water conservation through the ‘art of silence’.
The workshop of expressions
Emotions or expressions are universal. It transcends the barriers of language or culture, according to Schimd.
Anger, fear, shock or joy, all resonate in various expressions. These are not restricted to your facial muscles alone. It flickers right from the perched up eyebrows to the positioning of your shoulders and the angle at which your hands are pointed, he says.
In mime, facial expressions with coordinated bodily movements are used to create an illusion of reality. The expressions are enlarged to drive home the point in this silent show.
The artiste from Switzerland didn’t venture out of the small space he was occupying. Yet, he effectively showcased the trajectory of gaits.
The same principle, he duly reminded us, was also the soul of Kathakali.
And this is one of the key aspects of mime that had compelled countless artistes before him to research on architecture and learn the movements of gymnasts for decades at a stretch. Carrying on with the research on his agile shoulders, Markus explored how inanimate objects can be employed to emulate expressions.
An act that was put to test and applauded by the motley crowd.
“When on stage, there is a barrier around you. And using amplified expressions, you need to push through these barriers and make yourself a corridor to reach out to your audience.
“The anger in me should create fear in your mind and that’s when I succeed,” Markus, who also trains children with special abilities, explained, prompting his audience to think how it could be emulated effectively in a classroom.
And the workshop was succeeded by a conceptualized show by Markus titled, ‘Enki – The Water Singer’.
Markus as the water singer took us back in time from the days of evolution and reminded us step-by-step as to how man emerged to reign supreme.
He jumped up in elation when he made joyous discoveries using water, his face was in mute horror when he saw the water drying out and crawled on all four limbs weeping as he mourned the death of indigenous species. Going beyond conventional mime techniques, the artiste used shadows and manipulated objects to present an enchanting visual tale.
With soulful music by Hugo Moura aided by guitarist Christian Schmid, Markus held his audience in trance as objects flew and hovered above them all at the swish and click of his arms.
A true master of the game, Markus studied mime under Marcel Marceau, who in turn was mentored by Charlie Chaplin.
So how was it performing before the Kerala crowd?
“It was wonderful. I could see their (crowd’s) eyes open up during my act. That’s what I was set out to achieve and I am happy to see the result,” a visibly overwhelmed Markus said, before he was whisked away by an eager crowd armed with their smartphones with the selfie mode on.