“It’s Time for Mime”: Inside New Jersey’s only high school mime company


Courtesy of Debbie Barr

The Cherry Hill East Mime Company poses with members of the Lion’s Gate Retirement Community members at one of their performances

What’s the line again? Oh, right! There isn’t one!

For the Cherry Hill East Mime Company, performing isn’t just about speaking lines — it’s about expression and creativity.

The group meets every Wednesday after school in the Little Theatre. There, they write and direct skits, perform them, and bond. “We really just [hang] out a lot, making sure that we’re all staying, like, motivated,” said Jevyn San Pedro (’22), one of the East Mime Company managers. At the moment, there are around 15 members in the troupe.

Unique skits presented by the company can be about anything — from double dates to Zoom classes. Students brainstorm ideas during their weekly meetings. Once they’ve solidified their ideas, the entire group gives each other feedback on what to keep and edit in their performances.

“I think the hardest part is trying to find a twist ending,” said Ms. Debbie Barr, the Secretary of Activities at East and Advisor for the Mime Company.

To Barr, miming is fun and engaging for everyone who wants to perform, not just for students with experience in theatre. “Maybe if somebody has a speech impediment and they can’t, they don’t feel comfortable doing lines, or they’re not good at memorizing lines…this is a way to perform without speaking,” said Barr.

East’s Mime Company has been around since the late ’70s. As the only high school mime company in New Jersey and one of three in the country, miming has become a less prevalent art form among the youth. Still, the Mime Company plans to continue promoting creativity and bringing joy for years to come.

The troupe holds an annual show in the cafeteria and an ice cream social in May. Also, the group occasionally performs for a few of their close friends and family on Saturdays to help them prepare for the production. They typically visit a few Cherry Hill elementary schools to act out their skits with some of East’s music groups. However, they weren’t able to go last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fortunately, the Mime Company plans to visit Beck Middle School and a handful of the elementary schools in person this December after the past year of virtual performances.

“It is definitely fun seeing how younger people especially reacted to our skits, mainly because we are, like, built to be for children,” said San Pedro. “Performing for like a high school crowd, they’re going to think you’re weird, but like for children, they love us.”

For Jevyn, getting the chance to share his creativity with kids is one of the reasons he joined the Mime Company. “[It] helps energize me so much and realize like, wow, I love doing what I’m doing!,” he said.