Marcel Marceau


PANTOMIME / Musiker des Schweigens


Marceau: The Musician of Silence

The curtain opens to reveal a bizarre figure, David, dancing lightly from behind a screen. He wears tight white pants, a gray vest over a striped jersey, and his face is coated in flour-white makeup, his eyebrows raised in childlike wonder. Following David’s appearance, Goliath steps forward, a foolish muscular brute who bows awkwardly like a freestyle wrestler. After a quick change behind the black screen, David triumphantly places his foot on the imaginary Goliath, celebrating his victory.

Marcel Marceau, the French mime, rapidly alternates between the roles of David and Goliath behind his black screen. Throughout his tour across West Germany’s major cities, the audience is overwhelmed with enthusiasm, and young women throw red roses onto the stage. Despite having performed in Germany five times, Marceau’s manager in Berlin is already preparing his next guest performance, anticipating sold-out venues.

Marceau has traveled thousands of kilometers since 1949 to revive classic pantomime across various countries. Performing against a black backdrop with white makeup, he dedicates himself to the nearly lost art of wordless gesture, which he believes speaks more about humanity than words, as “words can lie, gestures cannot.” In an era dominated by radio, television, and cinema, Marceau captures the audience’s attention solely with his facial expressions, hand movements, and body gestures on an empty stage.

Historically, pantomime has featured gods and iconic characters like Jupiter and Venus, or figures from the Italian Commedia dell’arte such as Pantalone and Harlequin. These characters lived through dramatic and comedic tales without the need for spoken word. Marceau, influenced by these traditions and his predecessors like Charlie Chaplin, modernizes the art form, bringing it to contemporary stages with his character “Bip,” a modern Pierrot who navigates daily challenges with humor and resilience.

Marceau’s mastery of mime transcends the spoken language, connecting directly and profoundly with his audience, demonstrating that true artistry lies in expression beyond words.



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Ben Martin covered wars, fashion, politics, arts, business and sports for Time, Life, Fortune, People and Sports Illustrated for 33 years. He covered Martin Luther King’s Selma March, the first Nixon-Kennedy Presidential debate, Fidel Castro in Cuba and “Swinging London,” capturing “evocative images that defined the 1960s,” according to the New York Times.

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