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After touring the world, Burlington mime brings his 1-man show back to where it all started
Trevor Copp began his career busking in downtown Hamilton over 25 years ago
Cara Nickerson · CBC News · Posted: May 02, 2023 4:00 AM EDT | Last Updated: 9 hours ago
Trevor Copp, a longtime mime who has performed around the world, will headline his one-man show Searching for Marceau at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton this week. (Kaitlin Abeele/submitted by Trevor Copp)Trevor Copp of Burlington, Ont., is coming full circle in his long career as a mime — the centuries-old performance art of acting out stories without uttering a word. Copp, who started out busking on Hamilton streets over 25 years ago, will perform later this week in the area where it all started. The 45-year-old's one-man show, Searching for Marceau, has toured across Canada, but Copp said it will connect with Hamilton in particular when he performs at the Royal Botanical Gardens this Friday and Saturday. Searching for Marceau is "a Hamilton story," Copp said, "and this is the first time I get to tell it in Hamilton." Today there aren't many Canadian mimes who perform regularly, Copp said. The genre has its origins in the theatres of ancient Greece. But while the country's mime community might be small, Copp's stage career has had a wide reach. He has performed as an actor and mime in 18 different countries, including Syria, Lebanon, Morocco, Germany and Tunisia, he said. Performance is a coming-of-age story Copp said Searching for Marceau is a coming-of-age story based on his life, and begins when he started busking on the streets of downtown Hamilton. He said he was hired as part of a Hamilton rejuvenation project, where performance artists were stationed around the city, standing on yellow spray-painted stars, in "what [the city] described as depressed areas." Copp, 45, says he was hired 25 years ago by the City of Hamilton to stand on a yellow star on the sidewalk and busk. Faded stars, like this one on Main Street East, can still be seen around the city. (Cara Nickerson/CBC) "I was in the middle of nowhere. It was an industrial area. There was nobody there and I was like, 'I'm getting paid to perform for no one. This is really weird,'" he said. But he said the busking gig opened his eyes to performing professionally, and led Copp onto the path to studying at the prestigious French school L'École Internationale de Mimodrame de Paris Marcel Marceau. Copp takes inspiration from legendary mime "Marcel Marceau is the name of the greatest mime in history. That is the founder of the school," he told CBC Hamilton. "When you think of a white face with the lines down here," he said, motioning to his mouth, "that's not some kind of a universal mime code. That's one specific mime. That's Marcel Marceau." The late French mime Marcel Marceau, pictured here, inspired generations of artists with his performances. (Les Films du Prieuré) Marceau was born in Strasbourg, France, and died in 2007. As a young Jewish man involved in the French Resistance during the Second World War, Marceau helped save the lives of hundreds of Jewish children by forging documents and moving them to safety in Switzerland. Copp said Marceau would use the silent art of mime to indicate there were German soldiers nearby.
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Copp's show, he said, is about his own journey to become an artist and unite with his "second father" — Marceau — and the art of mime. Robin Patterson, one of the directors of Searching for Marceau, said "there are not that many people in the country who do physical theatre" like Copp does, and the show is a chance to experience an "interesting and complex" form of storytelling. "It's about family and finding your place in the artistic world and your own family always, somehow, is part of that," she said. Patterson called Copp "a treasure" who lives here, but works internationally. People "should go see him while he's performing in their backyard," she added.