A Southern Maine mime and storyteller, who has performed around the world, promises “something very dynamic and something very different” during upcoming performances in Farmington as part of celebration of the art of storytelling at the town library.
Then at 7:30 p.m. at the Emery Community Art Center on Academy Street, he will perform “Beyond the Box: Pushing the Limits of Mime and Storytelling” for adults and children 13 years old and older.
Jane Woodman, co-chairman of the guild, said the storytelling community is known for being close-knit and the Farmington-based group was familiar with Rocha.
The native of Brazil said he puts everything he has into his performances.
“I use my entire body to tell stories, so it’s not just voice. It’s movement, it’s sound effects, it’s illusions — not magic, but illusions with mime,” he said. “It’s a very unique presentation.”
When Woodman first saw Rocha perform at Sharing the Fire, a New England storytelling conference, she said his skills went beyond what people would expect from mime. In one story involving a jungle cat, he used his whole body and facial expressions to create the scene without props or costume.
“His motions were just like a cat’s. His eyes looked around as though they were in a jungle. You could just feel yourself there,” she said.
Rocha said he tries to give performances that include lessons — much like the lessons of traditional fables. He said in a telephone interview that he hopes his audience grasps the lessons imbedded in his stories.
“That’s what stories do for me. Whenever I am in need of advice, of guidance, usually the stories do that,” Rocha said. “Stories have that power. That’s why they were written. Most folk tales are to teach people to avoid trouble.”
Another objective in the performances is to communicate universal experiences and emotions that people share.
“I want people to walk away with a sense of joy and a sense that even though we’re all from different parts of the world, we’re all humans. That’s what I’d like stories to do,” he said. “We all smile at the same things. We all feel hurt for the same things and we all aspire toward the same things.”
Rocha’s performances include a mix of personal stories and folk tales, he said. Some will be silent and told by miming, and others will be traditional storytelling with words.
“My storytelling is very influenced by mime,” he said. “People look at me with a tilted head when I say that but it’s true.”
Rocha said he remembers being fascinated with mime as a child when he would see it on television in his homeland. In 1988 he received a Partners of the Americas grant to come to the United States from Brazilto study mime under Tony Montanaro, who was considered a master of the art.
He soon received a scholarship to study theater at University of Southern Maine and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1992.
While at USM, Rocha said in 1991, he took a class taught by Minor Rootes that turned out to be a pivotal point in learning about miming.
For a performance with the class, Rocha said that Rootes had him act as a co-director and to shape some of the scenes with mime.
“He wanted to create a lot of the atmosphere for the show through movement,” Rocha said.
Since then Rocha said he has continued to practice the art form, and has performed in 14 countries, giving him perspective on using an ancient artform in the modern era.
“Storytelling has become this incredible movement worldwide,” he said. “I think it is part of the journey back to the way things used to be.”
Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252 | [email protected]