Benefit Performance for Lumberton Hurricane Flood Relief

After the Flood Variety Show will benefit the “Rebuild Lumberton Initiative”

With a passel of clowns, fools, mimes, bubblers, and what-all. Bring the whole family.

7:00 PM, Friday, February 24, 2017 at the Carolina Civic Center, 315 N. Chestnut St. Lumberton, NC.


Why Juggle? What Are the Educational Benefits?

In order to formulate a sentence and speak it, for example, we use two sides of the brain. The voice is governed on one side; vocabulary, grammar, and syntax are on the other. The Corpus Callosum is a great band of fibers and neurons uniting the two sides, like a tunnel. It is the only way communication can occur between the two hemispheres. In order to speak a sentence, we engage and connect the two hemispheres of the brain. Many thought processes–remembering, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, evaluating, creating–require that the two sides of the brain communicate with each other.


Any activity that creates neuronal connections between the two hemispheres increases brainpower. Any activity that uses the two sides of the body in two different ways simultaneously builds neuronal connections and increases thinking power. When we are building coordination, we are building brains. Juggling builds coordination by building and strengthening neuronal connections between the two sides of the brain and body.


clip_image004-1There are ancillary benefits. One is that once someone learns to juggle and practices it, it naturally becomes a social activity. People are drawn to watch jugglers, and they say, “How do you do that?” Then the juggler interacts with others, teaching others how to do it, gaining social skills, deepening their own understanding of what they are doing, and improving their communication skills.


Another ancillary benefit has to do with who is drawn to learn and practice juggling. Generally speaking, boys get more excited about it. Generally speaking, a lot of boys are primarily kinesthetic learners (as opposed to learning visually or aurally). Kinesthetic learners suffer a disadvantage in traditional classroom structures, which are heavily weighted toward visual and aural learners who can sit still. Kinesthetic learners learn by doing and experiencing and repeating. They tend to score lower in school, and, not coincidentally, have lower status. But athletic prowess can raise their status, as can having a skill like juggling.


Then there are connections to math and physics—juggling is all about numbers and patterns, mechanics and physics. But I won’t go into that, here. And learning to juggle teaches the value of persistence—you learn to keep throwing up and dropping till you get it.

Residencies with First Graders in Charlotte and Raleigh

The Mime Who Talks works with first- and second-graders at WG Byers Elementary School through Charlotte’s Arts and Science Council’s Project Lift in April, 2015. At a spring intersession camp, students explore dinosaurs and beef up their literacy through arts and movement. With Kerrigan, they enter the world of dinosaurs using their bodies and imaginations, and write about it as if they were there.

In Raleigh, at Brooks Museums Magnet Elementary School, first-graders use mime, movement, and imagination to write “small-moment narratives.” They will discover details in small moments by acting out the sensory information they experience imaginatively, and then write.   IMG_3711

The Mime Who MCs Cucalorus Film Fest

The Mime Who Talks MCs Candaba Shorts with help from fabulous audience member, Gabe.

The Mime Who Talks MCs Candaba Shorts with help from fabulous audience member, Gabe.

The Mime Who Talks is back from the Cucalorus Film Festival in Wilmington, NC, an orgy of film, film-makers, and film-lovers. I am the Mime Who MCs nine of the film screenings.cucalorus

Members of Alternate ROOTS were present to facilitate post-film discussions of films like Wilmington on Fire and Freedom Fighters–documentary films that are seeking progressive social change. It was a treat to see ROOTERS in Wilmington!

Mime Who Talks Performs with Mallarmé Chamber Players

Sheila performed as Pippi Longstocking with harpsichordist Elaine Funaro of the Mallarmé Chamber Players.  Elaine played composer Paul Whetstone’s “Pippi Goes Bela-Cycling,” an homage to the music of Béla Bartók and the stories of Astrid Lindgren about Pippi, the girl who lives all alone (except for her monkey, Mr. Nilsson, and her horse). Sheila also performed with the ensemble a piece by Jean-Philipe Rameau called, “Le Pantomime.” (How apt!)  Sheila and Mallarmé performed the show at two schools and Duke Gardens. Fun, fun, fun! Here is an excerpt from the Duke Gardens show–Pippi making pancakes. (Click on the link:)

Pippi Makes Pancakes
(Steve Clarke, video)

The Mime Who Talks presents in Chattanooga at Forum on Arts Education & Technology

The SE Center for Education in the Arts hosted a forum at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga in May, 2013. Sheila was invited to present a workshop, called, “How Do I Get My Students to Collaborate and Discuss Effectively?” Fellow mime and co-founder of the Southeast Center for Arts Integration, Jef Lambdin, also attended and assisted with the workshop (and drove and made the trip fun). About a dozen educators, artists, and administrators participated with a will. They created beautiful mini-performances about equity and social justice, using a collaborative method that Sheila has developed for use in the classroom. “I love it when a plan comes together!” (Hannibal from The A-Team)Chattanooga forum w Jef Chattanooga Forum 2013 justice

How to Support a Residency: $$$

Alternate ROOTS Tour Program

Sheila is on the Alternate ROOTS Tour Program! It provides up to 50% of her fee for a residency of 3 days or more that includes a performance and engages underserved audiences. You can go to for information. Please contact Sheila (kerrigan at mindspring dot com) if your organization might be interested in applying to ROOTS for a residency.

Arts Councils

Sheila is an approved artist in the NC Arts Council’s Artist Directory, and the SC Arts Commission Approved Artist Roster. That means there may be funding support for an arts-in-education residency in North or South Carolina. She is also an approved artist in the Durham Arts Council’s Creative Arts in the Public Schools (CAPS) program, United Arts of Raleigh-Wake, the  Johnston County Arts Council, The Arts Council of Fayetteville, and the Arts and Science Council of Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, all of which provide funding support for artist-in-school residencies. Life is good!



The Mime Who Talks! On YouTube!

Here is “Middle Age,” part of Mime Explains String Theory, or Mime Explains Life & Death, my show for adults:


Here is a 6-minute version of Mime Explains String Theory:


And here is “Angela,” the end of Mime Explains String Theory, or Mime Explains Life & Death:


Here you can see part of my show for young people, The Mime Who Talks!:



“Mime Explains String Theory” Explained by Mime

Hanging from balloons

“Really, it’s all in the names,” longtime director, author–and mime–Sheila Kerrigan confidently explains. “When we’re born we start out pure essence. Then we get to a certain age and we start receiving conflicting messages about growing up. That makes us addled essence.” Kerrigan waits as the listener connects the elliptical dots. Addled essence. Adolescents. Oh. “And after a while, the essence just kind of goes, and then we’re just addled. Thus, addl’ts.” Adults. Huh.

Brainy wordplay like that provides the first clues that you probably shouldn’t expect a lesson in quantum mechanics from the latest in Kerrigan’s series of rare public performances, a work that uses mime and puppetry–forms most often associated with children’s theater–in a show written for adults. Fair warning: In a show that pushes against convention, the mime talks. “It’s a mime performance that doesn’t look like a mime performance, in a solo show that isn’t one.”

But why String Theory? “It’s my underlying theory that explains everything,” she says of a work that explores what she calls “the 13 stages of woman,” from before birth to after death. In it, the central character “accidentally uncovers the meaning of life. Then she struggles to communicate it, despite the forces that conspire against her.”

Kerrigan candidly describes the origins of the work. “My father died in 2005, just before Christmas. Then in 2006, my mother died just after Christmas. Nine months later, I had a dream about their dying: what it means, what dying and death is like–and what it might look like from another view.” The unexpected result? A “pretty silly” piece, Kerrigan laughs, in which “belly buttons have a very important place.”

More seriously, Kerrigan refers to String Theory as the culmination of the work she’s been doing for the last 40 years. And the strings she keeps referring to aren’t just the standard invisible-tug-of-war fare that mimes have mined for decades. “The stage is populated with a number of characters,” she says. “And as is the case with so many relationships, there are strings attached between them. Sometimes you see them. Sometimes you don’t. Just like in life.”

The venerable Jef Lambdin directs a work whose whimsy walks hand in hand with human insights more profound

Byron Woods, Independent Weekly, November 3, 2010

Photo by Steve Clarke

Workshops and Residencies

Sheila Kerrigan portraitSheila teaches workshops and conducts residencies for students from grade 3 to graduate school and for professionals.

For College Students & Professionals:

  • Collaborative Creative Process for Performers
  • Community-Based Performance; Where Art and Activism Intersect

    Overall, this has been one of the best classes that I have taken at Duke! Sheila Kerrigan has created a class that holistically builds up each student and combines the arts, social issues/analysis, leadership, and personal/group development.

  • Community-Based Art for Social Change

For High School & College Students &Professionals:

  • Movement for the Actor
  • Body Language and Non-Verbal Communication

For Adolescents

  • Creating Original Performance
For Teachers:
Thank you again…! Each time I attend, I learn several new strategies that I can apply to my teaching at UNCW.

The Games We Can Play session, led by  Sheila, was very valuable, because it taught us how to use movement to help children conceptualize and remember math and science content. The teachers in our group were lots of fun and very willing to take risks and participate in this hands on workshop!

  • Integrating Theatre Arts, English & Social Studies in Grades 4-8
  • Creating a Cooperative Classroom Through Drama in Grades 4-8 (Developed through the Kennedy Center)
  • How Drama Elicits Details and Elaboration, Figurative Writing and Poetry, Grades 4-8
  • Creativity: What Is It? How Do I Recognize It When It’s Happening? and How Do I Teach It?

“This was one of the most passion-filled, personable (or personally honoring) & pragmatic workshops/conferences I have attended.”

Sheila is a founder of the Southeast Center for Arts Integration, which conducts professional development sessions for teachers and teaching artists. For more information about the scope, theory and practice, go to:

Southeast Center for Arts Integration

For Teaching Artists:

  • Integrating Your Art with the Curriculum
For Adults and Children over 9 years old:
  • Mime
  • Juggling
For Students in Grades 4-12:
  • Collaborative Creative Process
  • Mime
For Students in Grades 3-5:
  • Communicate! Cooperate! Mime!
  • Mime & Poetry Writing
  • Mime & Narrative Writing
  • Exploring Figures from Local, State, or NationalHistory Through Drama

In November, 2009, Sheila team-taught a mime-and-writing residency for fourth graders at Winget Park Elementary in Charlotte, NC, through the ArtStart program. One teacher she worked with wrote:

“My students are adding more details to their written work. They are reading with more expression….My students were highly engaged in the activities…, I did not have any misbehaving in the class…I had 100% attendance during my artstart residency for the majority of the time.”

(photo by Steve Clarke)

Site designed by Steven Durland


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