Annette Thornton (Ph.D., University of Colorado, Boulder) is a retired Theatre, Interpretation, and Dance Professor at Central Michigan University. She taught Music Theatre Performance and History Courses, Acting, Movement for the Actor, Irish Theatre and Drama, and Oral Interpretation of Literature. Thornton’s scholarly interests include mime, mime performers, physical theatre, non-Western traditions, and musical theatre. She co-edited Physical Dramaturgy: Perspectives from the Field (2018, Routledge) with Jeff Casazza (Purdue University Fort Wayne) and Rachel Bowditch (Arizona State University). Thornton served on the executive board of the Association of Theatre Movement Educators [ATME] for ten years (as Secretary, VP, and President) and continues to serve on the Advisory Board.
Presentation: Lotte Goslar and Bari Rolfe: Finding a Voice in the Silence of the Mask, Lotte Goslar (1907-1997) and Bari Rolfe (1916-2002) were pioneers in the silent performing art of pantomime and mime. Their careers spanned, respectively, 67 and 55 years. During that time, many male mime performers – the big four known as Jean-Louis Barrault, Etienne Decroux, Jacques Lecoq, and Marcel Marceau – dominated the mime landscape. In a recently published mime history book, the author places both Goslar and Rolfe in the 1970s, when many post-modern mimes began incorporating music, juggling, and clowning into their work. Read more here. However, confining their importance to one decade limits the critical reception of each performer’s life and career and, more importantly, negates their contributions of an essential feminine perspective. Goslar and Rolfe each came to mime/pantomime through dance. They both performed, created, and wrote about their lives and work. They each persevered in a world of performance dominated by men and brought a feminine element of the importance of community and relationships to their work. The mask of the mime performer allowed each to find their voice in the broader theatre community. This paper situates both Goslar and Rolfe more completely in mime theatre history and identifies how each performer found her voice through the mask of silence.