Highlights of 2017-18

The Mime Who Talks has been too busy to keep her website up to date. At the invitation of Jonathan McCarter, I coached mime and movement for the young actors at the NC Theatre Conservatory, to prepare them for their roles in Thornton Wilder’s classic, “Our Town,” which uses minimal props and set pieces. The cast delivered a stellar ensemble performance, full of life and love.

Acting as the Mime Who EMCEES at Cucalorus Film Festival in Wilmington, NC, in the fall. I created original, very short mime introductions to a bunch of new films, and, as usual, the audiences were phenomenally receptive to the unexpected form of intros.

I attended, performed, and/or presented at showcases and conferences: the national Arts Education Partnership in D.C., the Arts and Sciences Council‘s Arts in Education Fair in Charlotte, United Arts of Raleigh-Wake‘s Arts in Education Market, the NC Arts Education Coordinators meeting, NC Theatre Arts Educators Fall Sharing, Durham Arts Council‘s Arts in Education Fair, NC Presenter’s Consortium Market, and more.

One of my favorite residencies this year was at Pleasant Grove Elementary School, called, “Communicate! Collaborate! Create! Mime!” I worked with nearly 200 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students. They and the faculty at Pleasant Grove were GREAT!! The residency was supported by a grant from United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County, with additional support from the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources. Many thanks to them, and to the taxpayers of NC who are supporting arts in education!

I led mime workshops in numerous after-school programs in Durham. My gratitude goes to the Durham Arts Council’s CAPS program! I also had the opportunity to work with high school Theatre Arts students in several different venues. I love working with high school students–they are full of curiosity, open to new ideas, and they call me, “Ma’am.”

I performed as a roving mime in multiple outdoor and indoor venues, including “Odyssey of the Mind” in Raleigh, “El Dia de Los Libros” in Siler City, and  an extremely wet food festival–“A Taste of Fayetteville.” By the end of the day, children were lying down in puddles and swimming in them. I was the mime who dripped and the juggler who dropped.

I coached a story-teller and a pole-dancer on their performances. And with the Southeast Center for Arts Integration, I led day-long workshops for teachers on “Closing the Gap in Literacy and STEM with Arts Integration,” in Wilmington, NC.

Summer of 2018 I will be studying clown and Lecoq technique at the Movement Theater Studio in Brooklyn. And I get to work with a group of high school students on devising original performance and mime in Greensboro, at Triad Stage. I am looking forward to it!!

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 http://alternateroots.org/tour 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

Site designed by Steven Durland


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