Daze & Nights IIc
"Downtown and Beyond" -- The Mime Troupe reaches
for the wider world.
of Part IIb :
The Mime Troupe played its first show out-of-state in Steamboat Springs,
Colorado, and a few weeks afterwards was performing for a multi-level
audience of peers and professionals at the International Mime Festival
and Institute in LaCrosse, Wisconsin during July of 1974. Nixon's
resignation was a good omen. We were invited to perform in Amsterdam,
Holland the following summer, but faced an awful lot of work to make
Many Things Happened In A Very Very Short Period of Time!
the first thing most of us had to do when we returned to Salt Lake
was find new places to live and work. Several among us also took trips
to the West Coast -- Katie and David accepted an invitation from the
Friends Roadshow to travel with them on a tour which ended up in San
Francisco. Matthew Child and I went to Seattle, Washington and Davis,
California. We visited Barbara Doherty in Seattle, Noel Parenti in
San Francisco, and saw lovely Nancy at Project Artaud. We threw ourselves
into our work after we got back, because we all shared the goal of
making Europe happen for us.
Mime Troupe did some performances on television -- KUED (PBS), and
several segments for KUTV.
Matt Child performed in an animated title for a local show, which
gradually increased our visibility.
Old Salt Lake City Library
the Autumn of 1974, the Mime Troupe performed at the Salt
Lake Library at least twice; the Utah State Fair; the Hotel
Utah; various venues around Arrow Press Square; the University
of Utah at least a half a dozen times; The Sun Tavern about
twice a month; and several schools -- especially Oquirrh Elementary
on Halloween. (Where Don Baxter, my sixth grade teacher, was
principal.) We were especially welcomed at Westminster College,
repeatedly playing at the Student Union cafe, and teaching
classes in the Courage Theater, part of the main building
(above), with the wonderful Dr. J.W. Lees.
Kugler ("Georgio") Infused New Positive Energy into the
Square, photographed circa 1974, from the same water tower where my
friend Bob Berntsen was wiring the lights as an earthquake shook the
worked on his juggling act before and after the movies at Trolley
Square all week, and used his teaching experience to book himself
in the schools.
greatest thing our LaCrosse trip did for the Mime Troupe was bringing
George Kugler into the group. I'll always remember the moment when
he came up to me during one of our rehearsals and said "These
guys are ready for center stage!" I had the very same opinion,
which was why I bucked the system to make sure the world saw what
Katie, Patsy, Matt, and David had done -- plus hear the music by Paul,
Stuart, Bud, and Fred. (We had some angels on the festival staff helping
George had natural talent, and he saw how our dancers' Martha Graham-based
training powered something different from anything else America showed
during the International Mime Festival. He also saw how he could contribute
to our show and was inspired by our ambitions. It pained me to see
him cheerfully hitch-hiking back to Seattle at the end of the festival
because we had no room in our little two-vehicle caravan, but he showed
up in Salt Lake City by mid August with his own VW bus, and outdid
everybody in establishing his prescence in the community.
Wally Wright's development at Trolley Square enjoyed some early success
by hosting a complex of movie theaters. George performed his juggling
act for audiences who were there waiting between shows. He was competent,
entertaining, and always innovating. He didn't make a lot of money
doing it, but the public exposure and good will was something money
couldn't buy. George used his recent experience as a Kindergarten
teacher to book workshops and performances in the local schools as
well -- we needed and appreciated his good-natured hustle.
The Lollin Building, on Main Street in Salt Lake City. There were
front and rear doors that we could use during business hours
(Photo from the Utah Historical Society)
needed a new studio, too!
returned to Salt Lake dead broke, and had to vacate the Hillside
Avenue building. Luckily, we found a space in Downtown Salt Lake
City, right above a music store, where owner Gilbert E. Martinez
generously let us bring all our equipment, set up a rehearsal area,
and start an actual business office. After I dug our a small mountain
of trash from the alley, we had access from the center of the block,
up a steel staircase, plus occasional use of conventional doors
when we needed them.
The rear alley, towards the middle of the block -- anybody want
to haul an electric
Rhodes piano on those stairs?
many stories can be told about cleaning, painting, and moving before
it gets boring? See how fast cleaning, painting, and moving get to
BE boring when you have to do these things AGAIN less than a year
after doing the same things in another space! Luckily, I had an uncle
who was a sales executive for a nearby janitorial supply company,
and we got a break on the equipment we needed. The tile floor in the
rehearsal studio wasn't ideal, but the dancers learned to cope.
large studio facing away from the street served our rehearsal needs.
occupied the entire second floor. There were two long rooms overlooking
Main Street -- I used the north room as my studio and it also doubled
as our office. The music room was south of me, plus there was a small
alcolve across from the cute little painting in the hall, leading
to the dance studio which took up most of the middle and rear space.
We never really got a chance to use (or clean) the third story.
Turn of the
Centuty blond oak stairs and details provided us with some much-needed
painting on canvas was still in existance when I photographed the
Lollin Building in 1989.
Street with the Mime Troupe.
looked up, but I watched street life from my studio at the front of
the Lollin Building.
Main Street, before the HUGE skyscrapers.
The circle shows our block -- we were on the left side.
Mime Troupe was ready to try new things, and we did -- most of our
experiments were successful, although we failed once or twice. There
were so many ideas ready to emerge from the ferment of the International
Mime Festival. One of our best was a movement jam by Matthew, Katie,
and George based on the concept "Competition," which I verbally
threw out for consideration at the start of a video session in the
new studio. It worked beautifully, and I wish all our pieces could
have been that easy to compose -- but they weren't.
Katie put in many hard hours working out movements. Patsy was heavily
involved with family responsibilities, and didn't have as much time
as before. We did our best when we were preparing for shows, as Stuart
noted -- luckily we had a lot of shows to prepare for. It wasn't always
necessary to perform new material in every show, but we needed to
increase our repitoire for the sake of the audiences who repeatedly
spent money to see us. Our most regular challenge was The Sun Tavern
-- they were a jaded, uh -- sophisticated, bunch who desired excitement
and something different. We spent long nights in the studio preparing
sets just for them, and they repaid us with appreciation and full
to teach at the Ballet Department, while creating new material for
the Mime Troupe.
Autumn was tough
on Patsy, but she continued to hang in with us until we went on the
road in December.
New Faces -- With An Eye On New Places
turned from playing Rock and R&B bass to Folk Music, and was our
new business manager.
and Bud left after LaCrosse. We not only needed to recruit new musicians,
but Daniel Robert let us know that he was heading back to New York
City -- luckily, he convinced the very capable Mark Nelson to be our
manager. Mark was performing with singer Sandy Duncan at the time
and my friend, guitarist Curt Setzer. (See Theatrical Nights &
Daze Part Ic) at The Pub in Trolley Square. They would later form
the Jordan River Uptown Band with Hardin Davis, after we took Mark
on the road.
As far as hiring our OWN musicians went, Stuart Curtis and Paul Blackwell
knew a pianist named John Fischer. When John joined us, it meant that
Curtis had to concentrate on his horns, but he was pleased to do it.
Jan Fogel was a neighbor of Matthew Child. He heard her playing drums
at a local night spot, and was impressed with her musical skill. She
took a little convincing -- her standards were very high.
I was present when she first jammed with Stuart and Paul. Afterwards,
I asked her what she thought, and she said "They have a lot of
potential!" Later on, as we were shooting the bull one evening
at the Main Street studio, I ventured to say that a musician who could
play bass and trombone would be ideal to complete the band. Very soon
I heard the musicians auditioning a person who could co-incidentally
do those very things. When I asked Gregg Moore if he was going to
work with us, he said "I sure hope so!" David Carrillo played
congas, percussion, and sang, plus Katie capably lent her voice to
concentrated on woodwinds and horns.
playing his Gibson Les Paul guitar.
out front, playing congas, and singing.
was a skilled and sensitive Jazz drummer.
played keyboards and melodica.
toured with bass, trombone, and tuba.
Mime Troupe's band never really acquired a name of its own until 1977,
but it had a definite onstage identity, and was loaded with character
and characters. As we grew, the band played whole sets of music in
various contexts. Besides Paul, Stuart, and John's original compositions
for the dances, the fashions of current bars and cabarets crept into
the set lists like: Steely Dan's Your Gold Teeth (See How They
Roll); Stevie Wonder's Sunshine of My Life and Superstition;
Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, and Buddy Miles' Them Changes.
Katie sang a smouldering Baby I Love You, and I was also happy
to hear progressive Jazz -- John Coltrane's Mr. PC, for instance.
Edwards Came All the Way from Michigan to Check Us Out.
We first met
Stan Edwards when he brought the Friends Roadshow to the International
Mime Festival and Institute. Everybody was stunned by their fleet
of Ford Trucks, the churning, powerful Jazz band, the international
cast, and their affable leader who called himself Jango -- commanding
any crowd with a smile, wave, joke, or original song.
I was the first one of our group to meet them whem when they wandered
into Viterbo College's gym to rehearse. My sketchbook was at hand,
so I got it out and made several pages of drawings as they came
and went. (See the previous chapter for examples.) I'm sure he recognized
kindred spirits when he later met the rest of us in small clusters
Jango repeatedly spoke a desire to start another Friends Roadshow
company in San Francisco, but it wasn't to be. I know he was seriously
moved to see David and Katie in California as the transcontinental
tour wore down in the wake of the Gasoline Crisis which had altered
the USA completely from the country he had known before he'd moved
Jango had promised to book us in Amsterdam, so we were eager to
show him what kind of show we had. Edwards flew out from Michigan
to spend a week or so with us in November of 1974. Davy Norkett
arrived a few hours later, because there had been a mixup along
the way. Another profound turning point for the Mime Troupe started
pivoting that same night.
The Art &
Architecture Auditorium beneath my old haunts at the University of
Utah Art Department hosted several of our productions.
Jango Edwards' talent for Salt Lake City audiences. His performance
at the Art & Architecture Auditorium, with Davy Norkett, drew
a nearly-full house.
After we finally
set up the instruments and rehearsal space for a run-through. Jango
sat back at first to see what we did. He called a halt to things
within ten minutes -- "You're used to professional audiences,"
he said, "I play professional audiences too, but entertainment
itself is an art, and ANY audience will respond to entertainment!"
The rest of the night was spent learning Jango's songs which had
served him so well in the Friends Roadshow -- they were simple,
but contained dymamics which we had neglected in our own searching-around.
I stood next to Davy and Jan as he arranged things on the fly, and
modified things to accomodate her amazing musicianship. Jango even
made me sing too, so that I'd learn the same lessons our performers
were learning about timing, pacing, and surprise.
We had several events scheduled for them -- Jango would do a lecture-dem
for Katie's Ballet Department class; The Sun opened their doors
for us again; and the Art and Architecture Auditorium at the University
of Utah hosted a formal concert for Jango and Davy. In between these
things I drove the two of them to the first Kentucky Fried Chicken
franchise on 39th South and State Street, and even took Davy to
the sleazy old Jocor (pronounced Joker) Lounge for a much-needed
beer. The jukebox played Ike & Tina Turner's version of Ooo
Poo Pa-Doo, but the Go Go dancer on duty wasn't nearly as good
as their marquee dancer "Sam" -- which turned out to be
a blessing, because we got out of there right away and spent the
rest of the afternoon at the University, where Davy practiced on
the Bosendorffer piano at the A & A Auditorium, while I gathered
needed items for Jango's "One Man Circus" performance
a day or two later. The Late Autumn weather in Salt Lake can be
awesomely good, and we had absolutely beautiful nights and days.
Even though he was a clown, Jango wasn't caught with his pants down
at the Ballet Department -- his high-intensity workshop challenged
even the most accomplished seniors, and we had a hard time following
his skill and sureness over the next week. His impromptu lunchtime
appearance outside of the Student Union wasn't forgotten for the
rest of the year either.
I was videotaping Jango's performance at the University, so I couldn't
do the lights. Luckily we didn't need much more than a follow-spot,
and Carrillo's friend David Zupan was capable of filling in for
me. (He would soon take on a larger role in the Mime Troupe.) The
concert itself was an amazing event -- they unlocked a Steinway
piano for Davy, instead of the Bosendorffer, but he wasn't bothered
in the least to be playing another one of the finest instruments
in the world.
Jango proved his contention that entertainment itself was fine art
at the Fine Arts Museum -- his mixture of low and high comedy, plus
verbal and visual acting, had people literally gasping for air.
Carrillo assisted Stan behind the fancy leather screen, and did
a few small bits out front. A childhood friend Steve Blanc came
up to me and said "That's REAL art!" at the intermission.
It is too bad that nobody from the newspapers showed up, even though
we'd purchased ads -- Salt Lake City had never seen anything like
UNLESS you'd been in the lucky crowd who filled The Sun to overflowing
-- now that was one magical night. The Mime Troupe's band lent Davy
support, and our performers did a few pieces so Jango wouldn't have
to carry the whole show. Edwards and Norkett had no trouble at all
-- they dominated the evening, and we learned an enormous amount.
My friend Lisa the dancer / choreographer shook my hand afterwards
and congratulated me.
By the time Stan and Davy went back to Michigan, we had two full
sets of material ready to perform that we hadn't had before, and
a new determination to give The Road a try. George Kugler took his
van, and rode over to the ski resorts of Colorado to see what he
could find. Mark Nelson went to Southern California for the same
reason, and we knuckled down for even more changes in our lives.
What Was Going On With My Artwork?
of two poster designs for our appearences at The Sun Tavern -- they
weren't original by any means, but brought in hundreds of people.
job as graphic artist in the Mime Troupe was to create advertising.
I have very few pieces left, but I remember laying out Petey's photos
for the Salt Lake Tribune and Daily Utah Chronicle at the University
of Utah. It sure was difficult getting ten people looking good at
the same time, so I really felt for the guy -- even getting our five
dancers/actors in a good pose was tough. For other attention-getting
posters I borrowed without shame from the cultural environment surrounding
us -- Norman Mailer's book Marilyn was riding high in the lists;
Long-gone Mata Hari was rediscovered; Thanks
to me, Tarot cards mysteriously acquired
The Mime as well as The Fool; For a couple of on-campus
posters, I even dared to adapt some images from Ralph Ginzburg's Avant
Garde Magazine. They were from the Portraits of the American
People issue -- and made ME laugh, anyway! By the time we were
getting ready to travel, I was still drawing from photos, but being
more creative in my interpretations, and using more obscure source
material. It was necessary to have adaptable graphics in stock. It
would be rare for me to be able to draft new things on tour, because
of physical constraints, but I didn't know that quite yet.
Group Agreed On A Subtle, but Important, Name-Change
came back from Colorado with TWO prospects for the Christmas season
-- one of them, the Highlands of Aspen, confirmed their booking. We
were very excited, but had to polish all our new material for the
Glass Factory show first. It was an audience that regularly patronized
dramas by the Human Ensemble Repertory Theatre, drawn from the community
at large, but included our artistic peers, and even rivals. As we
were sorting out what we needed to do, we settled on renaming the
company one more time -- after the nearby lake rather than the town.
It was a logical choice -- I'd had the idea myself earlier, and tacked
up a silly logo-sketch over my drawing board, but I'm certain many
others had the same idea as well.
Our two long weekends at the Glass Factory introduced the name Great
Salt Lake Mime Troupe to everybody.
at the Glass Factory inspired this image, which served us for several
months in a variety of other places.
The Glass Factory
-- A theater on the 3rd Floor, and the Dead Goat Saloon in
Mime Troupe hit the stage at the Glass Factory uncharacteristically
nervous and unsure. Van Hanson was doing the lights, since I was swamped
with other tasks, but that left me free to videotape the first night.
They were FANTASTIC out there -- the best overall show since Steamboat
Springs. I was smiling and relaying compliments to everyone afterwards,
but they were depressed and unhappy -- convinced that we had failed.
I immediately showed my wrung-out company the replay, and their spirits
rose to the heights they deserved to be. There were a couple of mistakes,
for sure, and a thing or two to correct, but the material was strong,
and their performances had been superb. The Salt Lake Tribune's theater
critic gave us a glowing review, which confirmed the video, and filled
the Glass Factory for the rest of our run. Thanks to the Sony Porta-Pack,
there would be no more bouts of stage insecurity within the group
for a long time,
of Mark Nelson's archives, we can read a transcript of the review
The Salt Lake Tribune, Saturday, December 14, 1974
And Music, Sound Mime Troupe Provides
Entertainment at Glass Factory
by Irene Jones Tribune Staff Writer
Mime is movement without sound, right? Wrong. At least according to
the Salt Lake City Mime Troupe. (sic) The mimists -- all 13
of them -- gathered at the Glass factory at Arrow Press Square Friday
Night to present "Clown's Cabaret," a mime show complete
with mime, music, and sound. The unusual presentation was comical,
well-planned, nice to listen to and well-done. Find
Seats As the audience wanders into the theater to
find seats, the mime/musicians are keeping early arrivers entertained
with some fine jazz sounds. The mimists -- David, Matthew, Georgeo,
Katie, and Patsy -- are seated around the room or wrapped around posts.
Gradually the audience begins to realize that the show was under way
and had been since the first person came into the theater. David and
Matthew begin greeting the audience -- they shake hands, pat heads,
remove shoes, scarves, hats. One girl is pulled from her seat and
handed numerous invisible objects, which she graciously accepts. Finally
she is allowed to return to the audience. The troupe mixes sound with
mime, does some singing, gives us an intermission of jazz and a hilarious
vaudville show for a finale. Ping Pong Game The
sound comes during a ping pong game; foot races, a session where we
learn what a shoe, hat, coat, and vegiweiner -- that's right -- is.
Georgeo introduces the vaudeville acts with nonsensical descriptions,
David manipulates a ventriloquist's dummy, portrayed by Matthew, the
musicians leave their instruments and give us all a song and dance.
And all of this is interspersed with mime. The mime is some of the
best I've seen the troupe perform. Their puppet was flawless, moving
each joint as the string was pulled. Expressions of hate, love, envy,
disgust, pity, sincerity, mischief and loneliness were excellent.
There was no story line to the show, merely a series of happenings
that moved smoothly into one another. The Olympic medal winners suddenly
were fighters; the fighters became arm wrestlers; they in turn, vied
at ping pong; the ping pong game became a swimming meet -- or was
it the other way around? The events were so swift and flowed together
so well, the order of things becomes unimportant. Giving us relaxing
jazz throughout the evening were Paul, Stewart, (sic) Greg,
(sic) John, Jan. Mark, Mike and Dave (a probable too-fast
edit) -- the troupe is known only by first names. "Clown's
Cabaret" will continue Saturday and Dec. 20 and 21 at the Glass
Factory in Arrow Press Square.
of State -- With MORE New Faces -- And Places to Go!
White Motors school bus
joined us as a bus driver and mechanic at first.
Kugler invested his own money in a thirty-three foot school bus, which
he then modified to as a mobile home so that we could go on tour with
all our equipment, and every body would have a place to sleep, with
storage for their personal items.
David Carrillo and David Zupan lent their skills to the project, and
the bus was ready to go on the third week of December 1974, with Zupan
as designated driver/mechanic. Mark Nelson was assigned to follow
in his own car, so that he could take care of business meetings and
Twelve people set out for Aspen in the un-named bus as winter began
for the Rocky Mountain region.
Patsy Droubay stayed in Salt Lake to take care of her family, and
we went on the road with Debra Ryals, a new lady recruited from the
prolific University of Utah Dance Department. I'm sure Katie and Jan
appreciated her company -- there were loads of testosterone on that
bus, and the women were outnumbered three to one by shaggy 70's style
men on their way to a new town for a very important gig.
beautiful Debra Ryals to initially take over Patsy's roles during
the holiday performances in Aspen, Colorado. She was a well-trained
dancer and a delight onstage.
We all knew
that the Highlands of Aspen show was going to be a trial run for
our planned tour of Southern California. Mark had set up a few appearences
"down there" already. We had done our best "up here"
to prepare the things we needed to succeed on the fabled ROAD, but
nobody in our group had ever really worked in a sustained theatrical
or musical tour before. We had so much learning ahead of us still
( Continued in Part