Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Good Friday: The Stations of the Mime

From The Salem News Online:
David Orvash, 35, plays a difficult role as a mime: He portrays the cross Jesus carries to his crucifixion, arms spread and fists clenched.

Ryan Burns, 19, plays Jesus, and together the two mimes, with white faces and gloves and black clothes, take long, drawn-out steps to appear as if they are walking down the streets of Jerusalem on the day most Christians celebrate as Good Friday.

"It's way more difficult than I thought it was going to be," said Orvash, who plays other roles as well in the two half-hour shows Christ Church of Hamilton and Wenham is putting on this Friday.

Why have a worship service when you can have a show?

It may sound odd - mimes performing the story of Jesus' death - but this production is a way to hold children's attention during what otherwise would be a lengthy service, said church member Joyce Bruce, who organized the event.

[…] Three years ago, when the production was about to debut, people questioned the appropriateness of a mime show on such a serious subject. Some scoffed, and some wondered whether it was sacrilegious.

But during that first production, the crowd was silent, "and by the end they're crying," Bruce said. "I was shocked by how much it touched them. It's very emotional."

If they did that in my church, I suspect that I’d be crying too.

Orvash, of Reading; Burns, of Wakefield; Wendy Dixon, 54, of Manchester; and more than 20 supporting mimes (all in white face for a rehearsal on Sunday) take direction from Anslono. They spent six weeks studying for Friday's performances of "Listen With Your Eyes: A Creative Mime Interpretation of the Stations of the Cross."

20 supporting mimes? Holy cow, can you imagine walking into that unawares? “Oh my G~d, honey! Freeze! Don’t take another step! We’ve blundered into a mime field!”

In all fairness, I’m sure that – for those who can tolerate the presence of mimes without breaking out in boils - this could be a beautiful and meaningful experience. And Christ Church of Hamilton and Wenham is a faithful, orthodox congregation affiliated with the American Anglican Council and the Anglican Communion Network; I should be ashamed for making sport with them. I have just gotten so hypersensitized to in-your-face Episcopal outrageousness that I simply can’t help bristling at this sort of thing. Besides, my spiritual gift is stodginess. But for heaven’s sake, at least lose the whiteface!

(Tip of the gimme cap to The Curt Jester.)