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Silence is loud

(China Daily)

10:54, December 31, 2012

Students from the Central Academy of Drama join Bizot on stage for some of his performances at Penghao Theater in Beijing. (China Daily/Jiang Dong)

According to French mime artist Philippe Bizot, 'The play is life, so you don't act.' Chen Yingqun finds out more about the universal language of saying nothing.

Philippe Bizot doesn't say a word on stage and yet, using exaggerated facial expressions and body movements, he expresses himself perfectly. "Silence is my language, my music, and my song," the 58-year-old French mime artist says. "The art of pantomime is a universal language, the language of emotion."

He has just completed his world tour with a series of shows at Penghao Theater, Beijing, including the performance Forty Years of Silence, a compilation of 13 short stories depicting life's highs and lows. In addition, he also performed Invisible Bridge, The Kid II, and You and Me, with Wang Xiaohuan and Zhang Jiahe, both students from the Central Academy of Drama in China.

"They are the very best performers in China," he says. "It's really nice working with them."

Bizot dreamed of performing in China when he was a child and first visited the country in 1984. "Chinese culture is very impressive. I have been fascinated by its painting, calligraphy and literature."

Since his first visit, Bizot has brought his mime act to the country every two or three years. In 2005 he combined the arts of mime and Kunqu Opera for a performance with Chinese artistes.

"Kunqu movement is really delicate, and the combination of the two arts was quite pleasant," he says.

Bizot's fascination with mime began when he was 8. He was later mentored and encouraged by Jean-Louis Barrault. At 18 he took to the stage for the first time to great acclaim, and at 20 he won the International Mime Golden Award.

As he travels, he observes people, watching their movements and recording interesting situations that can inspire him for a new performance.

Bizot is particularly happy to see people with speaking and hearing difficulties in his audiences. He studies their use of body language in different countries and adopts this into his work.

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