Behind mirrors and make-up. The troupe of mines get ready for the performance.
Backstage, actors are running through last minute preparations, touching up makeup and adjusting costume tucks. The star of the show, renowned mime Milan Sládek, slips into his classic all white baggy outfit and top. He firmly adjusts his coal-colored skullcap while confidently trotting down the short hallway between his dressing room and the stage entrance.
It is the re-premiere because "Grand Pierrot" saw its initial premiere at the Nová Scena Theater on April 6, 1995 when renowned mime Milan Sládek was taken in as a guest artist. Recently, he felt a need to remake, recreate and overhaul the entire production.
"Grand Pierrot" is the story of the late Czech mime Jean Gaspard Deburau. His family of performers arrives in Paris seeking fortune, and the young Deburau is plucked solely for his talents from the performing troupe. His new agent dubs him "Pierrot" and he begins performing at the Les Funambules Pantomime Theater in Paris.
From this point on, he goes through a series of women chasing adventures up until the birth of his son. His life then takes a tragic turn when he is attacked in a park and later jailed for the murder of his attacker. This situation results in the most moving scene in the play where Pierrot manifests five different characters at once to recreate before a judge what happened that fateful afternoon.
Why "Grand Pierrot" once again? "Because it's the 200th anniversary of Deburau's birth and I felt that I could do his life more justice," said Sládek as he posed in front of his three-sectional mirror, checking his face art in different positions.
Compared to the original version the actors seemed much younger, but they were all quite adept in their roles. The sets and costume styles were decidedly more Parisian and had more panache than the first version. Just before the intermission, a glaring technical problem occurred when backdrop support wires got tangled around some pieces of scenery and the backdrop couldn't be completely raised to reveal the scene behind it.
After the scene had played out, Sládek appeared in front of the curtain to apologize for the error and enlighten the audience a little about how pantomime is really a part of our everyday lives.
"Very often when we see someone we know on the street and we ask how they are - their posture is upright and they say, very brightly, 'Terrible'. Other people have a very humped posture and they mumble, 'Great, couldn't be better'. It shows how our bodies tell a story that often contradicts what we actually say," he said, demonstrating each position. The audience loudly voiced their approval. The performance concluded with dozens of rose bouquets and numerous curtain calls signifying an overwhelming success.
"I think that this performance has a special appeal for all audiences, because there is a minimal amount of dialogue. It's a human story told with movement," said Sládek.
"Grand Pierrot" will be a part of the 2nd International Mime Festival in Bratislava on May 23, 1997. Until that time it will play at the Istropolis Theater on several TBA dates.
27. Feb 1997 at 0:00 | Ron Severdia