London Mime Festival will cause another quiet revolution

The Cardinals by Stan's Cafe, which will show at the Roundhouse

The Cardinals by Stan's Cafe, which will show at the Roundhouse - Credit: Archant

Now in its 37th year, the mime festival comes to our area

Picture a mime. No, not that kind of mime. Not one with his face painted white with a black and white striped shirt who’s pretending to be trapped in a box. Picture a puppeteer, a circus performer, an acrobat, a performance artist, any sort of non-verbal theatrical performer. These sometimes genre-defying artists come together each January to compose one of London’s biggest festivals of visual theatre, the London International Mime Festival (LIMF).

“We don’t do dance but we do pretty much everything else that involves what happens on a stage without any text,” says Joseph Seelig, co-founder and co-director of LIMF. “So that’s all sorts of things. It can be circus theatre, puppetry, performance art, a huge range of non-verbal theatre. And obviously it appeals to a very large number of people in a multi-national cosmopolitan place like London where many people don’t have English as their first language.”

The festival has been changing people’s perceptions of mime for 37 years since Seelig and co-founder Nola Rae established the festival to attract larger audiences and more attention for visual theatre shows.

“I think it’s true to say that it’s the longest-running annual theatre festival in London,” Seelig says, “And it’s gone that long because there is a demand for it, and it constantly reinvents itself a bit so that it keeps fresh and you can keep going.”

Seelig and his co-director of 25 years, Helen Lannaghan, say they select “work of the highest quality that we like, that we can afford, that is stageable” from all over the globe to perform in the festival.

Fifteen companies, from ten different countries as well as the UK, are performing in this year’s festival until January 27.

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Among these many international groups two are performing at local venues – theatre company Stan’s Cafe of Birmingham at the Roundhouse and Italian solo circus-theatre artist Simone Riccio at Jacksons Lane, Highgate.