Anyone got the mime?

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 July, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 July, 1993, 12:00am

WITH Philip Fok, the Fringe's ''indomitable mime'', having left Hongkong last summer, the begging question is what next for Hongkong's mime.

Some had feared his departure would mean the end of the art-form. The man who appeared the engine behind mime's growth over the past eight years had pulled out.

Did that mean progress would halt? Benny Chia, the director of the Fringe Club, maintains it has not. ''The art-form didn't die with Philip Fok leaving,'' he said.

The Fringe appears to have helped carry the torch with its continued support of the Mime and Movement Lab, the group Fok once taught.

Fok trained under widely acclaimed Desmond Jones in London and then returned to lead the Mime and Movement Lab at The Fringe.

But rather than halt when Fok left, both mime and the work at the Mime Lab have continued. Last week the group performed No Constraint.

According to group member Chan Wai-ting, Fok's departure has made the group more cohesive.

''Before Philip went to Australia some of the members would come and go. After Philip was gone, all the members' adhesive power become much greater,'' she said. The direction of their work has shifted, too .

Their most recent work, No Constraint, is representative of the changing nature of their work. Chia sees it as distinct from the group's earlier work which was produced under the influence of Fok.

''They are moving in the direction of theatre which is non-linguistic, more than in the direction of white face mime,'' said Chia.

But the Fringe is not the only breeding ground for the art. The Hongkong Academy for Performing Arts (APA) and the Hongkong Arts Centre also teach mime.

Fok's absence has been felt by places such as the Hongkong Arts Centre which has not yet found an experienced teacher to conduct the classes Fok once taught.

As a result, next semester they have decided to ''co-present'' the mime workshop with the City Polytechnic, according to a spokesman from the Arts Centre.

Hongkong's APA has been affected. Mime at the APA is thought largely a tool acquired for the use in acting rather than an art-form in itself. Performing mime artists, such as Fok, consider this teaching outside the realm of training for mime's sake.

''It is a required course,'' said APA teacher Sam Lam. ''It is not really to train mime actors but to train to act.'' Moreover the school of mime promulgated tends to be more closely aligned to the traditional movements of the white-faced French artist Marcel Marceau.

This type of mime is very different from that practised by the Mime Lab. No Constraint had few of the body movements reminiscent of Marceau.

It was a performance with a strong message about the evils of a government which alienates its people and the importance of ensuring those people are given a voice.