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Body Language

September 15, 1989|LAURIE OCHOA

Todd Larsen wants to make it perfectly clear that he does not "do" mime. "People don't like mime," he insisted. "When they see the word mime , they automatically think of Marcel Marceau and white face."

But, Larsen admitted, "I do incorporate many mime styles in my work--classical mime, pantomime and especially corporeal mime, which was made famous by Decroux in France and is the most important premise for the style of movement I do."

Corporeal mime, one of the latest evolutionary stages of mime, involves formation of a movement vocabulary through the isolation of each body part, and cataloguing the possible movements and their emotional effects. "It's a whole way of acting," Larsen said, "letting the body do the talking instead of the mouth."

But it's Larsen's mouth, so to speak, that makes his style of theater different than pure mime. "I still believe in words," he said. And so when you see Larsen perform, he breaks the first rule of mime: He talks.

And he uses props: a chair, a table, a book.

"I was looking to start a new genre of theater when I got into movement," Larsen said. "But I missed acting. I feel they go hand in hand."

Larsen has been committed to acting since he was a child. "Both my parents were directors," he said. "When I got home from school, I'd do my homework as fast as I could and go to my parents' rehearsals whether they liked it or not."

To incorporate his allegiance to both acting and movement, Larsen created a solo work called "Silent Reminisce," which he will perform tonight and Saturday at the Worklight Performance Space in Reseda.

"It's a play about a man struggling with his memories," Larsen said. "He's about to move and as he packs up some forgotten belongings in an attic, he comes across an object and remembers where it came from."

The object triggers a flood of memories that Larsen feels can only be expressed through what he calls the "three-dimensionalization" of thought. "It's an acting and movement synthesis," he said. "Through movement we can see that the mind is troubled, and how the mind manipulates what we remember and what we don't."

How does this actually work on the stage? At one point near the end of the play, where a normal actor might cry ("Crying," Larsen said, "we've seen that before"), Larsen moves about the stage to express the emotion.

"The movement could be a progression of 20 movements done in 20 seconds or a simple shrug of the shoulder," Larsen said.

Todd Larsen will perform "Silent Reminisce" at 8 p.m. today, Saturday, Sept. 22 and 23 in the Worklight Performing Space, 17714 Saticoy St., Reseda. Tickets are $10. Call (818) 996-8688 for information.

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