The Art of Miming

Posted January 27, 2016 | by Sue Kenney | in Blog | 2 responses

Conscious Communication

When standing at the threshold of uncertainty I have learned to remain completely still and stay out of the way of the dissolution of order. In this state, I find myself inside the fluid movement of the universe’s creativity as a part of it. Some people call it oneness. Here's a story about how this art presented a magical moment in my life. This past summer I found myself wondering around the Art Crawl at Trinity Bellwoods Park after a visit at Feel Good Guru, my favourite raw vegan organic spot in the city. While roaming through the artist paths I happened upon a booth for Theatre Passe Muraille and bought a Punch Pass for 4 productions for two. A theatre night in Toronto is one of my favourite things to do. Elle was the first performance in the series. Adapted by Severn Thompson from the book by Douglas Glover and I was going to see it.  It’s based on the true story of Marguerite de Roberval, a headstrong girl and the daughter of Jacques Cartier, who gets marooned on the island of Newfoundland in 1542. Definitely the kind of story I like. Before the show, I met my friend Lynn at an Italian restaurant on Queen West. We were given the window table. I arrived a few minutes late and after we both checked our cell for any urgent messages we put them away and began a rapid succession of banter back and forth, laughter, and finally ordering our food. As soon as the waiter left someone walked up to the window outside and began washing it. The person used so much soap that the glass turned white and the view was completely gone. Unable to hear the squeaking sound or the movement of the squeegee across the glass, I sat still, observing the moment unfold. A dreamy state came over me, as though I had moved into a timeless world. The person slid the squeegee back and forth clearing the area in front of his face and then a young man smiled in animated delight at both of us. His pleasurable response was reframing my perspective of life beyond the glass that separated us. In that moment I was reminded of some free dance training I had as a young girl at McCormick’s Park in Toronto. In one class we learned how to mime: a theatrical technique that uses gestures and movement without words to convey emotion. We practiced by standing in front of another person following their hand motions and facial gestures without touching each other, as though we were a mirror image. The next moments in the restaurant unfolded like we were miming with perfect timing. Watching his hand move rhythmically move over the glass I lifted my hand to the glass wanting to follow his. He had missed a small round spot about the size of a cantelope right in front of me. I used my index finger to draw a circle around the soapy area, then I made two dots and a smile. He moved the squeegee in a circle as if to imitate my motion and then wiped away the soap leaving only the imaginary outline of my smiley face on the other side of the glass.  I had to blink my eyes a few times as I thought I could still see the smilely face. We both laughed out loud and though I was unable to hear him, the humour of our encounter was perfectly understood. He finished up and quickly left. I was sad the moment had ended. Lynn saw the whole thing happen and joined in the laughter. We talked about the magic of spontaneity. We finished our meal and walked over to the theatre arriving with minutes to spare. It was a full house and very few seats available. I glanced over the audience and stopped scanning when I saw the smiling face of the familiar man who was on the other side of the window moments ago. I wanted to run up to him and tell him how happy I was to see him again but my excitement with a big smile and waved to him. He seemed happy to see me too and then quickly turned away to talk to his friends. A woman kindly offered us her seats near the stage, as she wasn’t sure her daughter was going to arrive in time. Sitting there, I’m reminded of the similarity of this feeling when I had liminal moments in my single scull while rowing on Lake Ontario. When I was in alignment with the forces of nature, I could hear the bubbles of air under the boat as it lifted over the water ever so elegantly in perfect cadence as one with the water. This moment I was in, felt like that. Andy McKim, the Artistic Director, stepped onto the stage and announced that this production of Elle was going to be an ASL interpreted performance. He introduced 2 women as the interpreter’s, who would be doing the American Sign Language. I immediately looked over to the young man who was in a conversation where he was signing to the person beside him. He was hearing imparied and we had creatively communicated in a way that was required without any knowledge of our potential limitations. It is precious moments like these that continue to give me hope that if I am still and I listen without judgement of whether it is a good or bad, I am guided to experience being love, in creative ways that I couldn’t have imagined were even possible. Love and light, Sue   Sue Kenney is the author of the best-selling book My Camino.


  1. Wendy Brennan says:

    Sue, it’s been over 6 years since we walked the Camino together and every day since that experience I have worked on listening without judgement. It is truly the most life changing work that we can do and brings me so much insight and joy. Every day there are opportunities to experience people and places without judgement–to welcome them as they are –not to “remake” them as we think they should be. It’s hard work to change those life long ingrained patterns and beliefs that people should be a certain way and that the world and our lives should unfold in a certain way. I am a work in progress and the effort is definitely worth it as my personal relationships have been so enhanced by accepting people and loving them just the way they are.

    • Sue Kenney Sue Kenney says:

      What a beautiful message to receive. I still focus on that theme with every group I take on the Camino and you have provided confirmation of this work. Thank you for taking the time to write and share your journey.
      Love and light, pilgrim.

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