London International Mime Festival


every year in Jan.

Come and enjoy our selection of innovative physical and visual theatre from around the world, including three festival co-commissioned works from British companies: Arbonauts, Gandini Juggling and Vamos.

At The Peacock, Jakop Ahlbom’s five star Horror team returns with another movie-inspired masterpiece, Lebensraum, while at the Barbican two large-scale shows from Belgium see the return of 2015 Olivier Award winners, Peeping Tom, and the UK premiere of epic and extraordinary FC Bergman. Elsewhere there’s exquisite object and mechanical theatre from France, 19th century stage magic from Finland, a heartwarming Mexican wedding and, as always, breathtaking new circus-theatre at the start of the year in which we celebrate the 250th anniversary of this artform, pioneered by Phillip Astley in London in 1768.

All this plus a rarely seen silent movie classic with live piano accompaniment, discussions, and workshops in puppetry and physical/visual theatre led by internationally renowned professionals.

Helen Lannaghan and Joseph Seelig
Festival Directors


London International Mime Festival is the Capital’s longest established international theatre season. It was founded by producer, Joseph Seelig, and mime/clown, Nola Rae. Inspired by Cologne’s Gaukler Festival and Amsterdam’s Festival of Fools, the first edition took place in 1977 to showcase the work of British visual theatre artists, many better known abroad than in their own country.

The programme spanned the spectrum of wordless performance including live art, physical theatre, new circus, puppetry and object theatre work which is still at the heart of the Festival’s annual season. It was presented and funded by leading London fringe venue, the Cockpit Theatre, with support from the Arts Council of Great Britain.

The late 1970’s was a period of resurgence for innovative forms of theatrical expression where words played little or no part, and which now inform mainstream theatre at every level. Before Dance Umbrella (1978) or LIFT (1981), when international theatre work was rarely seen in London, the Festival struck a chord with public and performers alike.

Helen Lannaghan joined the organisation in 1987, bringing new ideas and expertise. The ICA has been a partner since 1980, the Southbank Centre since 1988, and over the years the Festival has collaborated with some twenty-five London venues, from the West End to the Natural History Museum, the Almeida, Roundhouse, Barbican, Laban, Royal Opera House, Sadler’s Wells, BAC and South London Gallery. Spin-off seasons have been programmed at many UK regional centres, and as far afield as Hongkong.

New circus, extreme dance, physical imagery, fairground commedia and exotic Japanese puppetry are just some of the exciting and essentially wordless media through which the Mime Festivals artists tell their stories.

London International Mime Festival

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