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Saying it all without saying anything

SILENT film star Charlie Chaplin is also regarded as a great mime artist. Even decades after his death, Chaplin's unique blend of pathos and humor in movies have had a profound influence on modern mimes working in live theater.

To provide people a feast of humor and an insight into this special art genre, the prestigious TJ Sokol Lazne Tousen Troupe will present a Czech mime performance from today until Friday as part of the ongoing 12th International Arts Festival.

The performance features four separate shows - "Cinema," "The Ship," "The Fisherman" and "The Car," each of which is nonverbal and humorous.

"The Car" and "The Fisherman" are shows with only two actors while "Cinema" and "The Ship" are pieces for the whole theater group.

The most successful play on the repertoire is "Cinema," which received wide acclaim at the Czech National Theater Festival "Jiraskuv Hronov" in 2008 and several international theater festivals.

Its storyline is very simple, revolving around a group of different types of people watching a new American movie at the cinema.

Without any particular scenario, the most interesting part in this play is the way the characters are created. Improvisation is well incorporated into the slapstick comedy to create various amusing cinema goers.

Differing from the dynamic atmosphere conveyed by the "Cinema," "The Car" is quite static. The pantomime is all about what could happen during an ordinary trip in a car. The movement of the actors is restricted to the space of an imaginary car. The main communication means are simple gestures and mimicry.

"The Fisherman" used to be staged for deaf people. Nonverbal grotesque is displayed by two men who go out fishing and swimming. The fisherman uses his intelligence and the swimmer use his muscles to snatch the best lakeside position for their sports.

Pantomime comedy "The Ship" is another imaginative and hilarious journey, this time on a ship. The main theatrical elements are movement, gesture and mimicry. The actors create every possible dramatic and comic situation without words or even without any solid story.

According to the show's producers, it is their first show in Shanghai, but they have already presented it at theater festivals in Germany and France.

Nowadays mime in the Czech Republic is on a high level and has a long tradition. Presently there are a number of great Czech mime stars such as Boris Hybner, Ctibor Turba, Bolek Polivka and Michal Hecht.

"The nonverbal theater is easily understandable for all nations and peoples of all ages," says Lubos Tousen, a manager of the troupe. "You can tell any type of story without any props. Charlie Chaplin is the representative of creating the classical gag with the right timing. He is one of our inspirations."

Date: Today and tomorrow, 7:30pm

Venue: STA Theater, 630 Huashan Rd

Tickets: 80-400 yuan

Tel: 5169-5210

Date: Thursday and Friday, 7:30pm

Venue: Shanghai City Theater, 4889 Dushi Rd

Tickets: 80-280 yuan

Tel: 5415-9123


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