American Mime Theatre
The American Mime Theatre is a professional performing company and training school based in New York City. It was founded in 1952 by Paul J. Curtis (August 29, 1927– April 28, 2012) and Leslie Barrett (October 30, 1919-June 8, 2010). It is the oldest continuing professional mime company in the United States. The theatre ran under the direction of founder Paul J. Curtis for 60 years.
Paul J. Curtis was an American actor, mime, director and founder of The American Mime Theatre. He created the medium known as American Mime. He is missed by thousands of students and audiences throughout the world, who he moved deeply with his teaching and performances... Paul J. Curtis, a man who lived moment to moment with unwavering uncompromising untamed deepness of heart .
He said, "American Mime is a complete theatre medium defined by its own aesthetic laws, terminology, techniques, script material and teaching methods. Basically, it is a medium for non-speaking actors who perform, in characterization, the symbolic activities of American Mime plays through movement that is both telling and beautiful."
On April 7, 1952 Curtis established his theater company, The American Mime Theatre, in New York City. It remains the oldest continually functioning Mime Theatre in the world. The work of The American Mime Theatre has been commended by Presidents Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton with proclamations.
Born in Boston, Mr. Curtis served in the Navy in World War II. He studied with the notable German director Erwin Piscator from 1947–49. Later, he went to Paris and studied with Etienne Decroux. In the 1970s, Curtis founded American Mime, Inc. and International Mimes & Pantomimists. In addition to teaching at his own school, Mr. Curtis was chairman of the Mime department at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, 1956–71. He also taught American Mime at many institutions including Cornell University, Bennington College, Goodman School of Drama, Fairleigh Dickinson University, and The Leonardos in Paris. He and his company created more than 30 original plays for the medium of American Mime. He was a member of AEA, AFTRA, and the National Movement Theater Association.
The history of American Mime is available to the public at the following libraries: Harvard College, Yale University, Cornell University, The Players, Lincoln Center Research
“Paul Curtis and his American Mime Theatre have brought to the concert stage a new medium so fresh in approach, so studied in discipline and so exciting to, see that it must be destined to affect the entire approach to the art of Mime. It cannot be described as founding itself of the French school of Marceau and Decroux because the art of these two gentlemen is self-indulgent and introspective when compared to the communication offered by this new form.” THE SPRINGFIELD NEWS
“Curtis is playing with fire and watching him you can feel the heat. Curtis' contribution is valuable, engrossing, and totally serious and how many Mimes can make that claim.” WASHINGTON STAR
“It's hard to categorize this group, but it is certain that Paul J Curtis & American Mime Theatre create their own classification.” DANCE MAGAZINE
“Curtis is making American audiences realize there is an important difference between a Pantomimist and a Mime.” DANCE MAGAZINE
"As one of the few who toiled in the vineyards over the decades when mime was considered chiefly a European import, Mr. Curtis deserves credit where credit is due. The program that the American Mime Theater is offering... demonstrated an independent view of mime that owes little to conventions associated with the form...... it allows for a free-form approach that roams between the realistic and the stylized." THE NEW YORK TIMES
- American Mime Theatre workbook written by Paul J Curtis
- "'Midsummer Night' In Athens, Georgia, Is Comedy Of Actions". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 1991-05-23. Retrieved 2008-01-19.