I have seen incredibly few concerts and shows through the years.
The first was in probably the eighth or ninth grade, a group billed as Dawn played all the hits of Tony Orlando and Dawn in an empty building at the Gregg County Fairgrounds. I don’t know if they were actually related to the real group. In college, I saw Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in G. Rollie White Coliseum and, yes, they played “Mr. Bojangles.” Only the latter performance was to a crowd. There weren’t many others except for The Crickets, the surviving members of Buddy Holly’s band, which also performed before a sparse gathering.
Notable exceptions have been theatrical performances by college and community groups.
And … in the spring of 1976 at Texas A&M University … I saw Marcel Marceau exhibit his genre-defining mime performances, what he called “the art of silence.”
It was perhaps the most dominating showcase of an art form one could see. OK, I’m really not qualified to make such an evaluation, but he moved me to that degree … 47 years ago.
Yesterday, March 22, would have been Marceau’s 100th birthday. He died in September 2007 at 84 years old, after more than 60 years of performing around the globe. (Think, he never had to worry about language barriers!)
But I’ve learned his stake in history runs deeper than entertainment.
As a young Jewish man, he lived in hiding and worked with the French Resistance during much of World War II. As a member of the Jewish Resistance in France, he helped rescue Jews during the Holocaust. In 1944, his father was captured by the Germans and sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where he was killed. Marcel Marceau and his older brother, Alain, helped rescue numerous children during the war, according to this Wikipedia article. Finally, after joining the French army and being fluent in French, English and German, he worked as a liaison officer with U.S. Gen. George Patton’s Third Army.
Yeah, like most people, his background included more than the casual observer could discern.
The raw emotions he loudly illustrated in silence were likely familiar topics for him, but he used them to create beautiful messages for the rest of us.
Happy birthday, Monsieur Marceau.