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The Colorado School Of Mimes

Not everyone understands that Golden, Colorado, besides being the iconic, long-term home of the Coors Brewery, also hosts the Colorado School Of Mimes. Founded in 1874 to train mining engineers, Colorado’s economy has since shifted far away from resource extraction toward supplying the ever-burgeoning entertainment industry. Introverts originally considering engineering careers find little difficulty fitting into the School’s more modern focus, as they arrive on campus so concave, faculty complain about having to wear miner’s headlamps to even call role. Born to not be noticed, today’s students find Mimes’ atmosphere perfectly congruent with their natural preferences.

The curriculum can be challenging, even for those uncomfortable with public speaking. “Public miming can be even harder to master,” claims one sophomore whose parents had previously encouraged him to join Toastmasters International. Mimes offers a minor degree in what they call Milk-Toastmasters, a course of study similar to public speaking but without the speaking part. “Holding an audience’s attention when you’re basically invisible seems like a definite impossibility,” the sophomore continues, “but the supportive faculty, many with extensive busking experience, understand how to silently encourage even the more extroverted.”

Friday night finds Golden’s main drag, Washington Street, crowded with fake ID-carrying Mimes students out for a good time, with one critical difference. While a typical college town might echo with music overlaid with that insidiously annoying undergraduate giggling, Golden revels silently. Beers, ordered with instructive nods and glances, students dance to an inner beat every bit as insistent as any garage band’s. Electric scooters silently glide the length of the street. Couples quietly coo alongside the burbling Clear Creek nature trail. As with any college, some act out under the influence of a bit too much alcohol, but no screaming matches ensue here. Acting out around the Mimes campus more often takes the form of a curious Kabuki-like dance intended to insult and demean without disturbing the almost deathly public peace.

Classes at Mimes include expected skills like closing the non-existent umbrella in the wind to the ever-popular invisible rope climb, but the curriculum also includes such computer-age courses as podcasting and information miming, a form of improvisation involving the imitation manipulation of even the most secure data bases, al la WikiLeaks and Anonymous. “The technology of miming might be the least understood innovation of the last ten years,” reports an enthusiastic grad student. “When I started here five years ago, our technology barely stretched into cheesy canned applause. Now we can reliably electronically interpret ninety percent of most miming.”

You might wonder whether Mime students compete in intercollegiate sports. They do! “We are particularly adept at the fake play, where, for instance, we fool a baseball base runner into believing we have the ball. We often fool the umpires, too, and quite often execute perfectly believable double or even triple plays without benefit of a ball.” This skill extends into even basketball, where the Mimes team has become infamous for the three point, rebounds swish. Not even instant replay can uncover the deception. Their opponents hate this, of course, but find they have little defense against a dedicated Mime team.

Mimes graduates do not exclusively become performing mimes. They enter virtually every field. Their skills are highly valued in any organization requiring misdirection and faking skills, which these days, means virtually every field of endeavor. “Though historically under appreciated, mime skills have in the modern speculation economy, become essential to market positioning and dominance,” reports a Mimes dean. Mimes prove to be master negotiators, distracting opponents with apparently irrelevant actions while quite literally walking away with the family jewels. The whiteface makeup alone throws most off their game.

Post-modern mimes even experiment with certain forms of speech, integrating the spoken word with classic action to create what even traditionalists agree can be powerful performances. There’s a certain shock value in suddenly speaking after conditioning the audience for a completely silent performance. A few dissident mimes have long employed cue cards directed at the audience, to help them interpret particularly intricate sequences, but speech, long considered absolutely forbidden, promises wholly new horizons in an already thriving field.

Will the strong silent type come to dominate every field? This seems unlikely. Television journalism, for instance, has yet to successfully integrate mimes into any role beyond weather reportage. Politicians, though, increasingly employ miming skills with the ever popular ‘no comment’ explanation for their actions, or, more commonly, their inactions, on specific issues. The Republican party in particular, which has become widely-recognized as the ‘party of No!” has been trying out replacing the increasingly unpopular No! with a mere mimed shrug. “We see miming as a real alternative to failing to explain our inexplicable positions,” one highly-placed Republican operative explained.

The Colorado School of Mimes, long a silent and slightly annoying partner to the proud traditions of Golden’s gold mining history, enters this century miming a gold all its own. One day, with the help of dedicated faculty, alumni, and current and future students, Mimes hope to make their solemn motto ‘silent but deadly’ the very foundation of modern society.

©2015 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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