Heartbeat Mime Troupe
In 2008 a mime troupe was started in Izmir, Turkey. From August 2009
until June 2010 we are based in the San Francisco Bay Area (San
Leandro/Oakland, California). The central theme
of our performances is "altruistic love". We emphasize that giving is
better than taking. We stress a love which gives above and beyond the
requirements of law, social mores or expected reciprocal gain. Many of
the skits incorporate humor, often by exposing the short sightedness of
egocentric pretense. The
child-like innocence of the mime can soften prejudices and gently
uncover unperceived reality to the viewers’ heart.
The vision for this troupe started with personal tragedy. In 2006 the
mother of one of the
troupes' founders was killed by an absent-minded driver while jogging near her
home. The founder, after some searching of heart, saw a great lack in
his own life in the area of love. As he began to pursue love, an
overflow of joy resulted in the longing to awaken others to the same
Marcel Marceau called Pantomime "the language of the heart". As such,
it seemed that pantomime would be an ideal art form to stir up longings
for love in the hearts of others. Pantomime communicates across barriers
of culture, age, gender, ideology, ethnicity, language, mental capacity,
social class & even hearing capacity. Research has suggested that only
7% of communication is contained in the words we use. Our pantomime work
has confirmed to us how effective non-verbal communication can be.
Pantomime is a gentle art. It can be performed in public squares and
marketplaces without disrupting civil order or commerce. It does not
force its way into the mind of the passer-by without their full consent.
Our pantomime skits are inspired by everyday life, time-tested proverbs
and ancient wisdom. The art of pantomime forces the performer to reduce
her gestures and expressions to those that are part of the shared
experiences of all people. Interpretation is left to the mind of the
observer based on his own experience. For example, in a skit where
musical instruments are "suggested," the performer was thinking of a
guitar, but a man in the audience saw a saz (a popular stringed
instrument in Turkey). Neutral tones (black & white), long sleeved
shirts, pants and caps that cover the skin and hair minimize physical
differences in the performers. The art of pantomime amplifies the fact
that people have much more in common than we might commonly think.
Our mime teachers have received training at "The
School of Modern Mime" in Warsaw, Poland by
Gregg Goldston (teaching assistant to Marcel Marceau and founder of
the Goldston & Johnson School for Mimes) &
Bartlomiej Ostapczuk (founder of the
and Warsaw Mime Center in Poland, trained by Polish mime artist,
Stefan Niedzialkowski). We train volunteers from Turkey and other nations. For those who
participate, it is an opportunity to overcome self-consciousness in
front of people. They experience being part of a multicultural group
working together to spread love. We have worked with and trained volunteers
from Turkey, Romania, S. Korea, Mexico, Honduras, India and the USA. A public
school teacher from Romania, who came for the training, has now trained
some of her students in basic mime skills. They perform for other
children including those with disabilities. She was able to channel the
energy of some of her most difficult students into something beneficial
We have been invited to perform in a children’s hospital for those
with cancer and other serious illnesses. We have also had the privilege
of giving free mime training to members of a non-profit group that seeks
to bring happiness to children in several hospitals.
WHY IS OUR GROUP CALLED "HEART BEAT"?
The troupe was started by a married couple. Before moving to Turkey in
1997 one of the founders was an expert in restarting hearts.
He used to teach classes to
doctors and nurses about how to bring people back to life after their
hearts had stopped beating (Advanced Cardiac Life Support). Heart disease
(including vascular disease) is the leading cause of death in the world.
It kills more people than cancer, AIDS, malaria and TB combined. For
example in Turkey it is the cause of 1 death every 2 minutes and in the
US 2 deaths per minute.
Heart disease can be slowed down with a
few simple lifestyle changes.
For example, quitting smoking and replacing unhealthy fats with healthy
ones greatly lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke. This is why the
troupe’s founder has promoted Turkish olive oil as the "oldest natural
remedy for the world’s biggest killer."
But humanity has a deeper kind of heart trouble that is not so easy
to cure; not just decay in our coronary muscle or clogged arteries, but
a malignant pathology in the deepest part of our being. We see the
symptoms all around: depression and suicide, stress and unhappiness,
family strife and breakup, breakdown of trust followed by economic
crisis, injustice and oppression, destruction of our environment,
violent crime and war. The love of many people has grown cold. Instead
of hearts of flesh, it is as if our hearts have turned to stone. This
condition is so common we have come to see it as normal. But it is not.
Sometimes we try to numb our hearts with non-stop media consumption,
superficial relationships, drugs & alcohol, and seeking pleasure or
comfort. Through education, economics, politics, science and religion we
have relieved some of the symptoms, but these all fail to get to the
core of the problem. We need to have our dead hearts restarted. We need
hearts that can love again.
Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, envisioned a planet where there
would be "peace at home and peace in the world". Lasting peace starts in
the hearts of individuals and spreads to their families, neighbors,
communities, nations and beyond. Peace and love must first reign in our
own hearts. While some cast blame and promote hate against some external
enemy, the real enemy is within. An ancient Middle Eastern proverb says,
“He who rules over his own spirit is better than he who captures a
city.” The biggest battles we all face are inside. In our hearts, truth
wages war against lies and lies seek to overcome the truth; Love fights
against indifference, selfishness and fear. Joy and boredom wage war, as
do peace and anxiety; patience and anger; kindness and lust; generosity
and greed; mercy and hatred; gentleness and arrogance; goodness and
laziness. All these wage war within us.
Watching a pantomime performance cannot revitalize a stone cold
heart, but it can ignite hope; hope that comes from knowing "I am not
alone." "Each heart knows its own bitterness and a stranger does not
share its joy." says another ancient proverb. There is something built
into heart muscle cells that causes them to beat in unison. Scientists
have taken two heart cells that were beating at different rates and
placed them in contact with each other. They found that the cells
synchronize and begin to beat at the same rhythm. In pantomime
communication is heart to heart. Mime artist and viewer can touch in
that secret place, speaking only the language of the heart. Deep joy,
sorrow, humor, truth and love can reach, as it were, directly into the
heart of the viewer, as he interprets the meaning quietly in his own
The aim of the "Heart Beat" mime troupe is to see cold hearts revived.
The mime plays we perform are not seeking to reach the healthy, but
those who know that their hearts are badly broken; hearts which are
troubled and loaded down with burdens. Our aim is to stir people to ask
themselves deep questions that will lead them to seek a restarted heart,
a heart that can give and experience genuine love. This is why we hold
discussion groups on love for those whose hearts have been touched.
COST: We start with the most basic raw materials, our time and
physical presence, with very few props and we offer our art for free.
All of our performers are volunteers and all of our work is done on a
volunteer basis. As we have freely received all that we have, it is our
privilege to be able to freely give.
INVITATION: If all this sounds like idealistic nonsense to you,
please feel free to just ignore us. Since we communicate silently, we
are pretty easy to ignore. But if you feel something inside your heart
that is beating in sync with our vision, please join us. We’d love to
meet you, to share a cup of tea. All are welcome to visit our "love
discussion groups". If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, we
would love to come and perform our art in your community or for your
(Dennis & Alexandra)
We want to
express special thanks to
Zibes for including information about
our work on his
pantomime web site.