Reflections on George Kugler

Great Salt Lake Mime Troupe 1975
(L to R) Matt, George, & Katie

Great Salt Lake Mime Troupe 1976
(L to R) Matt, George, & Katie

A couple of years before I started my Theater X project, I got an email from Paul Blackwell with a link that told the following story:

From the former website of actor/director/musician Johnny Melville (Current Website HERE)

In Memoriam-- George

On the 23rd September2003 there will be a benefit performance for the family of Georgio Peugeot. Georgio Peugeot, the American clown was tragically killed in Switzerland on 17 August 2002 when his car was hit by a train. Georgio was a charming and gentle clown who started his performing days as a juggler in the 70s with the Salt Lake Mime Troupe from Utah. He was also part of that explosive Fools Scene which sprung out of Amsterdam and fathered the variety and street scenes of today. Soon after he developed a unique contact improvisation style with Jack Millet in the 80s. Georgio was also a proficient teacher, and later producer/director of various groups and events.

I first met Georgio in Barsham Fair, a medieval festival in England in 1975. I was performing at that festival with my group SALAKTA BALLOON BAND and on the first day there I noticed a large crowd enthousing round a juggler. Dressed in cloured overalls he had beautifully long reddish-blond hair which bounced on his shoulders in roll-up locks which a baroque wig-maker would have been jealous of. He was doing something I had never seen before - juggling a cauliflower, an apple and a peanut. Now in those days juggling had not yet become a mass phenomenon like now, and I was used to seeing the typical street performer with 3 clubs and 3 balls.....but here was Georgio innovating with 3 different sizes and weights, eating the apple as he juggled and when he finished that off he flipped the peanut high in the air and caught it perfectly in his mouth, the cauliflower perching on his neck. Over those days he also adopted a festival-partner: a 6 year old princess whom he integrated into his show: it was utter charm and it was funny too.

Over the years we met occasionally at festivals but it wasn't till the PALAZZO COLOMBI VARIETY 2001 that I actually worked with him when he urged me to perform in the show. I must say it was a very pleasurable experience. I worked with comedians and acrobats who were not only of the highest calibre but also due to Georgio's acute sense of teamwork, were also generous and willing to share the limelight. He himself was open, fun, easy to work with and very serious about his comedy which all the great comedians are. He will be sorely missed by all, and my condolences go to his son and wife, THE COMEDY KIDS, and all of us left in shock who knew him, worked with him and loved him. Losing clowns like Georgio the planet does not need right now.

I had heard this news verbally from Matt Child a month or so earlier, but reading the details was still a pretty sobering experience. I was comforted by knowing he had friends who cared about him, and his family, whom I never knew.

George (center) as Georgio in 1976
Festival of Fools; Amsterdam, Holland

(L to R) Mark Nelson & Georgio in 1975
Project Arts Center -- Dublin, Ireland

Some of my own thoughts

George was a lifelong learner, and natural leader who exemplified humor, wit, compassion, and sheer guts to those who were fortunate enough to know him. I was his friend and fellow traveler for only a few years, but they were some of the most intense times in my entire life. It was really important to have a person of George's strength and goodness on the scene as we all sought our place in the wide world.
I first met him at the Mime Troupe's studio on Hillside Avenue in Salt Lake City. He'd been a teacher in Seattle, but was searching for something else, and found it in Katie's movement classes. A few months later he was one of the brighter lights of the International Mime Festival, learning some of Dimiti's harder juggling tricks while Katie and Matt showed the whole darn world that America had mimetic talent too -- opening the door towards Europe. He joined our group, and sharpened his skills by accepting a previously under-used invitation from the Trolley Square mall to perform street theater for their movie patrons. He bought a tour bus when we needed to go on the road, and helped keep us sane, or failing that, employed. A year after we met, he and the rest of us Mime Troupers were in Europe after trekking from the Midwest to the West Coast and around Utah, and the Western USA. He had talent that continued to deepen, and curiosity that never slackened. He visited me when I lived in England, and helped me out when I suffered hard times in Amsterdam. The last time I saw George, he recruited Pete Wear into the Mime Troupe for a season, rehearsing in Salt Lake one more time before permanently moving across the Atlantic.

George as his Third Base clown, along with Katie as Stubby in 1976. Two years later Third Base was playing on the Moon with Pete Wear's Batman.
Theatrical Daze and Nights

Altered digitized images Copyright© by Michael Evans 2007 -- Acknowledgements to Jan Jaap Dekker, John Brandon, Pat Eddington, De Melkweg, and our friendly, but unknown, photographers in Ireland and Southern California.   Email Me