My Encounter with Marcel Marceau, the Maestro of Mime

A picture given by the late Marcel Marceau in 1988.

By Adji Subela

            I was so sad when I failed to upload this article last September due to technical problem. It was five years after the dead of the world’s famous mime Maestro, a French actor, Marcel Marceau.
            He deserves my tribute that since at the Junior High School I always enjoy his short play on TV ads. I was so amazed witnessing his tender and smooth body movement and imagining he was me.
            Marcel Marceau was of course my ‘hero’ since then. Any movement in the ads had never lost from my skull, but I failed to imitate any tiny part of it.
            Thanks God. At the end of May 1988, Marcel Marceau and his entourage visited Indonesia for three days. A year earlier I suggest my friend, Mrs Wiwik, a local staff of the Jakarta branch of the Centre Culturel Francais (CCF), the French Cultural Center, to invite the Maestro to visit Indonesia. In a discussion with our journalist colleagues, this would encourage our youngsters to engage the art of mime.
            My hope was fulfilled (fortunately) when the Maestro coincidently had also a mime tour to part of Asia and Far East. So I met him at the Hotel Sari Pacific during a press conference before his two-day performance at the Graha Bhakti Budaya, Taman Ismail Marzuki, Jakarta. Surely it was my happiness to be with my ‘hero’. We had a long discussion about the art of mime. And, of course, I just his good listener that my knowledge on that matter was so limited.
            I made a photo series of his and his pupils and it was my fool that I’ve forgotten to pose with him! But for return he gave me a piece of photo with his note  and signature. How lucky I was. The photo itself was controversial portraying him as Bip the Clown – a popular role of his – saying “Non” on a phone. It was the first and the only word he said during his mime performances. “I was forced to say that ‘damned’ word,” he told me. Director Mel Brooks was the one who was responsible for that ‘calamity’.   
            Marcel Marceau said that any country has their-own style of mime, and this should be encouraged to develop on its owned cultural track.
            This gentleman showed his smooth movement even in the real life.
            Truly it was my unforgettable moment.   
The Maestro was born Marcel Mangel in Strasbourg, France, on 22 March 1923 and passes away on 22 September 2007.  He fled France at 16 when World War II tore his country. In 1944 Marcel's father was captured and sent to Auschwitz concentration camp, where he was killed. Marcel's mother survived. He adopted his last name Marceau a reference to François Séverin Marceau-Desgraviers, one of the French Revolution heroes.
He obtained so many awards and medals during his life both from his country and abroad.


My Encounter with Marcel Marceau, the Maestro of Mime

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