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|12-04-02: He's saying it all without
|By JANIE SOUTHARD
The Daily Standard
Toma's art of mime and a couple hundred student-authors' words teamed
up for an hour of silent but animated performance at Celina Middle School gymnasium
Toma, a.k.a. Tom Johnson of Traverse City, Mich., has been touring his
mime workshops in schools throughout the country since 1986.
"Young Authors Day, which is what I'm doing in Celina today, calls
on the kids to work in teams writing short stories, which I'll perform this afternoon.
Kids always get a kick out of seeing their ideas translated into mime," Johnson told
The Daily Standard on Tuesday morning at the middle school as the students worked on their
Toma, the stage name chosen by Johnson when he studied with world
famous mime Marcel Marceau in Paris in the early 1980s, said he traveled with the master
mime throughout the nation as his assistant.
"It was a great experience. But so is bringing the art of mime to
young students," said Johnson, who added it's always difficult to choose which
stories he'll perform because kids "come up with some great stuff."
In the interim between his morning and afternoon performances, Johnson
toured the various classrooms where the students worked on their stories and answered
questions and told the kids how he developed his art.
Later, dressed in black pants, red-striped T-shirt and white face, Toma
talked with his audience of young authors in the gymnasium standing beside his only prop,
a folding chair.
After complimenting them on their stories, the mime read from his
selections and then performed in mime.
A guy with his hand stuck in a bowling ball, a woman trying on a tight
skirt, meeting a bear, a skunk on a camping trip and a tennis lesson with a jammed ball
machine were among the 10 stories Johnson performed to the delight of author teams and
general audience alike.
"It's quite an opportunity for students to see, hear and watch
their ideas being presented. They always find it interesting on some level to see how
changing the written word into actions is accomplished," he said.
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