Ruti Tamir is a stage and film actress, mime performer, director, and theatre creator.
I saw her perform Where is Gogo? in a theatre packed with children aged 4-8. The young audience was spellbound throughout the 45 minutes show. Ruti Tamir allowed time for questions. The young audience had many questions and she, superbly, engaged with them. I next came across her at Kaffé Theatre at the Cameri theatre in Tel Aviv. She acted characters drawn from S. Y. Agnon‘s stories. Her talent as a character and mime performer is impressive.
What inspired you to become an actress?
My grandfather was Yaakov Timen, a Russian immigrant who founded. in the 1920s, a satirical theatre called “The Broom” in Tel Aviv, Israel. I was drawn to the world of the theatre ever since I can remember myself. As a child I would perform around the house, creating characters, each in full costume and each with their own sort of accented gibberish. I studied ballet and modern dance at the Bat Dor school of dance, knowing I will one day combine dance with theatre.
‘At the age of 14, I moved with my parents to the United States. There I studied in both, the dance and theatre departments, of the Performing Arts high school in Miami, Florida. I later graduated with two theatre degrees from two universities in Florida, studied classical Mime with Gregg Goldston, in the US, and Corporeal Mime in Paris, France, with the Theatre de l’Ange Fou.
You excel in mime. Can define what is the difference between mime and dance?
Mime theatre is a form of highly stylized poetic theatre, and it is performed (usually) without words. It is an art form that moves through the whole body, all the time. There is no need for verbal expression where the body expresses every thought, desire, and action.
The difference between Mime and Dance is that in Dance, one can move 1000 movements to describe one word or emotion. In Mime, every movement describes only one word. And for each word, there is one movement, expressed through the whole body.
Do you perform for adults as well as for children?
Yes. I create works for audiences of all ages — each show is different and specific for its audience. I always combine text with movement- each show is a different mix of those two elements.
Do you find a difference between performing for adults and for children? Do you prefer one over the other?
I truly love performing for both adults as well as children. I love performing for people young and old who come to be surprised, to be thrilled, to enjoy themselves. Audiences who I can take with me on a journey into a different world for about an hour or so. The theatre is a magical event that takes place only once, uniquely, each time it is performed. It is a celebration.
A show for children can be thoroughly enjoyed by adults, while a show specific for adults usually will not be understandable or relatable for children.
Is there a difference in the way you perform for children and for adults?
The performing style is built into the play itself. I would involve the young audiences more than the adults. I turn to them, look at them, and have a character ask them questions. Kids like to be involved and be part of the show.
Theatre, Film, or Television. Which do you prefer performing for?
Each media has its advantages and difficulties. The most important part is the performance, the characters I play (Are they interesting? Challenging?), and the people involved in the project.
You created and performed in the show “Book, Woman, Home”, based on the writings of the Nobel prize winner, the Israeli author Shai Agnon. Why did you choose Agnon and the specific characters you play in the show?
I wanted to create a literary show for high schools in Israel. Since I personally am drawn to classical literature, I wanted to bring to the students classical characters and make them relatable to them. That is how this project came about. I have been performing this show since 2010, and it found its way to evening performances in cultural centres all over Israel, and since 2018 in the Cameri Theatre in Tel Aviv. I chose characters that will envelop Agnon’s vast rainbow of characters: women, men, as well as one dog -Balak, from “Only Yesterday” or “Tmol Shilshom” as it is called in Hebrew. Characters from Eastern & Western Europe as well as local characters, Israelis from the 1920s until the 1960s. I get to play nine different characters in an evening and go thru an array of emotions- truly a kick each time.
In “Where is Gogo” your latest creation for children, we follow the character you have created, in search of something or someone called GOGO. What is this show about?
I first thought of the new show during a performance…. While performing for youngsters I suddenly wanted to bring to them a game, a play about emotions, discovery, surprises….. I was not clear what it was I was trying to say. After a few months of search, and discussions with colleagues and friends, I realized the show was about a journey. I created the set all while creating the story of the show. It was all literally sewn together…. The character I play (who is nameless, ageless, and genderless) feels she (I say this just because I am a woman, not necessarily what the kids see me as) is missing something she cannot even describe.
I, as the creator, knew this had to be something life-changing for the character. This was not a show about missing a toy or a sock… it had to do with the character itself. Then I realized SHE was what she was looking for. She was looking for something special, unique, and realized it was her, herself. She IS GOGO. I then turn to the audience and suggest to them that they too are their own Gogo. This show is almost without any words. It does not need them. It is clownish, physical, and is all about a dialogue between the character herself and the audience.
Critiques have linked the name Gogo to Becket’s Waiting for Godot. Probably due to the amorphic nature of the subject, and the search for the unknown. To be mentioned in the same sentence as this great creator is truly quite flattering but the truth is simpler. I simply like the sound of the letter G, and I wanted to create a mystery for my audience, big and small.
The fact that Gogo is philosophical in nature is because I believe in giving my audience something to think and talk about when they leave the theatre and go home. I have received notes and drawings based on shows from audiences that came to see them. That is the best review I can get.
Currently, Tamir is performing in Israel, looking for her next screen performance, her next stage project for adult audiences, and is looking forward to returning to perform abroad in the post-Covid era… She would love to bring Whereis Gogo to London. “We shall see if that can happen”.