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August 30, 2003

Russian mime troupe to perform at Burlington High

From: Journal Times Online, WI - Aug 30, 2003

By Pete Wicklund

BURLINGTON - Possibly as many as 300 Harley-Davidson riders and other interested people may attend a mime performance by a famous Russian deaf theater troupe tonight at Burlington High School.

The free performance by members of the TOYS Theater troupe came about in an impromptu fashion earlier in the week. According to Rae Guth, a teacher of the hearing impaired at the school, four members of the troupe are among an estimated 1,000 hearing-impaired Harley riders who have come to the area for the centennial celebration.

Some 600 of those riders are staying at the Bong State Recreation Area in Kenosha County, just southeast of the Town of Burlington.

The way Guth understands it, the performers were eating at the Town Fryer restaurant in Burlington earlier in the week and had made some inquiries about where they might secure a place for a performance. The high school was mentioned.

"They said they would do it out at Bong, but they said there were too many mosquitoes and it gets too dark," Guth said.

Guth said she was abruptly summoned from a meeting earlier in the week to serve as an interpreter for the organizers. She said she learned little about them and only their first names, but said she knows of the troupe's reputation.

According to publicists at Johnson County Community College in suburban Kansas City, where the troupe recently performed, TOYS Theater is an internationally-acclaimed group that was first formed in 1985 in St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad), Russia. The ensemble has used mime and gesture stories enhanced by rhythms to delight Deaf and Hearing audiences in such locations as Finland, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, and Poland.

The group has also performed at the National Association of the Deaf Convention 2000 in Virginia; the Russian Cultural Centre (affiliated with the Russian Embassy); and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The four performers - Vasily Solonitsky, Ludmila Romanovskaya, Alexander Filimonov, Ilya Goltsov, and the director, Oleg Golovushkin, all of whom are deaf - use the universal language of humor to entertain and provide glimpses into Russian and deaf cultures.

"I knew they were famous, but they were way out of my price range," said Guth.

The performance is scheduled for 7:30 tonight at the high school, 400 McCanna Parkway, located south of Highway 11 at the east end of Burlington. Donations will be accepted.

Guth, who teaches three deaf students and one who is hearing-impaired, said she has alerted her students about the performance and encouraged them to try to attend. She said that the show is geared to all audiences.

"You don't have to be deaf to enjoy the show," Guth said.

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