By Marilyn Delk
To the delight of everyone involved, during this past week Darke County Center for the Arts presented Robert Post to fourth through sixth grade students in all Darke County and Greenville City schools as the initial offering in DCCA’s 2021-2022 Arts In Education series.
“Who is Robert Post, and what did he do,” you might ask. The simple answer to that question is — he’s a comedian who made audiences laugh; but that is far from a complete description of his show and the appreciative response it earned.
Robert Post is an award-winning artist whose category-defying work during his almost 50-year performing career has been seen across the United States and Canada, as well as in Japan, Mexico, Russia, and throughout the Mediterranean; he’s a mime, a movement artist, an actor, a juggler — but that hardly defines what he does to invoke joy and spur creativity in his audiences.
As the students begin to take their seats, Robert’s playful, friendly demeanor easily develops a rapport with his audience which only grows as the show begins with this definition of mime. “Mimes make the invisible visible,” he explains, before stating “Now I am going to do all these strange things,” which he then demonstrates: he turns his right arm into a scarf, makes his hands do amazing (and silly) things, removes his nose for cleaning, rewinds a football play from every angle, and more, challenging and expanding imaginations in the process.
The audience joins in on a bit using invisible balls that Robert pulls from an empty grocery sack, inspiring joyously creative throws as the “balls” are tossed back and forth between audience and performer, as well as “Oohs,” and “Aahs” when Robert pours a steady stream of colorful real balls from that empty bag. Next, the dexterous artist performs “A Rather Unfortunate Evening for Burglar Burt,” featuring a barking dog, a slinking cat, a snoring parent, and a crying baby as well as the bumbling burglar, his hilarious antics inducing raucous laughter and enthusiastic applause.
A graceful, dexterous and funny dance with a pair of red long johns also earns applause from audiences, who then participate in creating the illusion of holding an apple, discovering a worm in the apple, and gulping down the invisible worm. After explaining that his next piece contains images and graphics similar to a cartoon, the agile artist took his audience on an aerial joyride, playing not only the speeding plane and its pilot, but also everything they run into; many audience members enthusiastically imitated Robert’s movements, one saying out loud, “It’s so believable!”
A request for “two really good questions” drew excited response at Arcanum, with the chosen inquisitors enquiring how the performer got started doing what he does, and who inspired him to take up his unique career. After stating that when he was a young student, he drove his teachers mad with his willingness to try anything, he explained that when he discovered theatre and learned mime, he reveled in finally being “good at something.” He then extolled legendary teacher and performer Tony Montanaro, who served as a visionary mentor to many artists, and urged the youngsters to find that special someone to make you better at what you do, as he had done.
The show closes with a masterful three-stick schtick in which three-foot sticks magically become snakes, a flying trapeze, cowboys and Indians, horses, speeding bullets, and more, rightfully winning thunderous applause. When one audience member was asked what he thought of the show he’d just seen, he responded with an awed “I never saw anything like it!”
Although the review given by one Bradford student — “You are funny!”— sums up how Robert Post will be remembered, the hard to define artist who entertains audiences also inspires a sense of wonder, enabling imagination and stimulating the development of new ideas. His performances provide an enjoyable show to be savored and remembered, but also stoke creativity which can ultimately lead to many positive outcomes — ranging from artistic achievements to scientific discoveries and beyond.