Visiting professor recounts his days with Marcel Marceau
RELEASED: September 27, 2007
DANVILLE, KY—The world recently mourned the loss of Parisian pantomime artist Marcel Marceau. While many reminisce about the man who was most recognizable as Bip the clown, Daniel Stein, Centre visiting guest artist of dramatic arts, recalls an evening with Marceau in a dark theatre in Paris.
Stein, internationally famous for his work as a physical theatre artist, traveled to Paris from Milwaukee in 1973 to train under Étienne Decroux. Decroux, widely considered the "father of modern mime," trained many of the world's most well known performers, including Marceau. Having worked with Decroux as both a student and translator, Stein in 1976 began to piece together ideas for a new project while working on his first professional production.
"So I came down off the stage and into the house and sitting in the back was Marcel. He had been watching the whole time." Marceau was telling Stein, "It's interesting."
Marceau's fascination with Stein, who at the time was 24, was both gratifying and unnerving. It wasn't long before Marceau invited Stein to go on tour with him, where Stein would play a set of hands in The Pickpocket.
A year and a half later, Stein premiered Timepiece, the performance secretly previewed by Marceau in the early stages of rehearsal. But Stein wasn't satisfied with his glowing reception in Paris; he wanted to take the show to America. After much negotiating with the director of the American Mime Festival in Milwaukee, he returned to his hometown and was scheduled to perform outside at 6 p.m., when the sun was shining directly in the audience's eyes. Nevertheless, as soon as Stein concluded his performance, he was rushed by fists full of contracts. Stein had made a name for himself in the blink of an eye.
After a world tour of Timepiece, Stein was contacted again by Marceau.
"Marceau said, 'You got your show. It is finished and you are famous. I'm going to Spain to perform. Come with me and let's start a company.' But even then I couldn't do it. I was too busy thinking of the next thing I could do. I wanted to push the art form, and turning to pantomime after physical theatre was not the way to do it."
He says, "I'm lucky to have been the conduit for Timepiece. I'm lucky to have been in the right places, with the right teachers, at the right time."
On Sept. 28, Stein will perform Timepiece at 8 p.m. in Weisiger Theatre on campus. The performance is free to the community as part of Family Weekend.
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Consumers Digest ranks Centre No. 1 in educational value among all U.S. liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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