Mime Is A Four-Letter Word

Avner The Eccentric Brings His Unique Style To OU Jan. 16

By Amy J. Parrent

Avner Eisenberg's biography lists his childhood interests as juggling and snakes.

When asked if he ever juggled snakes, he replies, "I stopped at kittens."

When asked how he got into performing he expands: "I juggled since about age 12, sort of recreationally. When I was a freshman in college I went into a building to get out of the rain. It was the theater building.

"I was studying chemistry and biology, then switched to theater," he said. According to his website bio, he wanted to be a doctor but his parents pushed him into show business.

Eisenberg, who performs his one-man show "Avner the Eccentric: Exceptions to Gravity" at Oakland University on Jan. 16, said, "My real interest at the time was tech theater: set construction, design, lighting."

And how did he transition into what he does now with his one-man show?

"It stopped raining, I went back outside."

And that's how it goes with this witty man with the accomplished resume: A sailing buff who lives on an island in Maine, has starred on Broadway, taken his show around the world, and was the scene-stealing title role (really) in "The Jewel of the Nile" opposite Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner.

But back to what he'll be doing at Oakland University:

"Around my sophomore year I saw Marcel Marceau," Eisenberg said. "I was fascinated with gestural theater."

The Atlanta native attended four universities as an undergrad, traveling counter-clockwise around the U.S. After earning his bachelor's degree from the University of Washington, he followed the miming muse to Paris. "More than any artistic pursuit, I was looking for an excuse to go to Europe," he said.

"I couldn't get Marceu's number in the phone book, so I studied with Jacques Lecoq for two years," he joked, before adding, "No, I'm glad I did."

On returning to the United States, Avner taught at Carlo Mazzone Clementi's Dell'Arte School of Physical Comedy in California.

On his website he pays tribute to his mentors, "Lecoq, who taught me everything I know, and Carlo who taught me the rest."

In Paris he was once arrested for buffoonery in public. Yes, that's a thing. But what would he call what he does?

"I wouldn't use either 'clown' or 'mime'," he said. "That's a four-letter word. They are both code words for 'bring little kids' (to the show).

"Years ago, I used to wear a red nose in my act. Broadway reviewers would talk about (how it was for) children, even if there weren't any kids in the audience," he said. "I took the nose off: Immediately they talked about existentialism."

One Irish reviewer called his show "'Waiting for Godot' with tricks."

Eisenberg also teaches workshops (including one scheduled at Oakland University) which he's titled "Freeze, Flight, Fight or Fidget: A Physical Approach to Acting."

"I deal with finding humor in ordinary things," he said. "The first thing is taking simple movement and unlocking all communication with it. I tell students to look at the time on stage as series of problems to solve."

Eisenberg, who is also a certified trainer in Ericksonian Hypnosis and Neuro-Linguistic Programming, does "quite a bit of work in stage fright, or anticipatory anxiety.

There seems to be little stage fright in his life. "When I'm touring, being onstage is the calmest time of my day," he said. "There's a predictability of audiences."

He's also a part-time practitioner in Portland, Maine, seeing people for wide variety of issues, often working in concert with therapists.

"Avner the Eccentric" appeared on Broadway in the mid-1980s. Although he said, "I make changes (to the show) as I go, I'm playing essentially the same character. It's a distillation of myself, a lifetime of me dropping things.

"One time before a show I twisted my ankle, and was limping," Eisenberg said. "The director asked, 'How's your foot, can you go on?' I said fine, I can do the show. Humor is based on misfortune. They usually see an old bald guy. Now they'll see an old bald guy who's limping - that's even better."

But he said, "There's an optimism in this kind of comedy - it's like making ice cream out of dog food."


'Avner the Eccentric: Exceptions to Gravity'

Varner Hall on the campus of Oakland University, 2200 N. Squirrel Road, Rochester. 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16. $20 general admission; $10 for students. A special two-for-one ticket is available through Living Social at http://www.tinyurl.com/OULivingSocial

MI Marriage Trial

Michigan Same Sex Couples Demand Respect And Equal Treatment

Michigan Leaders React To Feds Recognition Of Marriages

MI Marriage: Schuette Asks For Full Appeals Court Review

The Stay Delayed Allows 315 Couples To Wed In State

Gay Marriage Defines Schuette's Reelection Campaign

Snyder Says Schuette Going Against Trend

Sixth Circuit Continues Stay

Michigan Marriage Ban Struck Down

Michigan Makes History With First Marriages

Elected Officials, Advocates Petition Schuette To Drop Marriage Aappeal

Pictures from Ingham County - Getting Married

Pictures from Oakland County Clerk's Office - Part 1

Pictures from the Oakland County Clerk's office - Part 2

Pictures from the Oakland County Clerk's Office - Part 3

Pictures from Washtenaw County

White Nationalist Group Files Brief Supporting AG's Appeal In Marriage Ruling

Discredited Witness Part Of Right-Wing Cabal

Schauer Celebrates Overturn Of Michigan Marriage Ban

Equality Michigan Circulating Petition to Drop Appeal

Why Are Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette Wasting Michigan Taxpayer Dollars On A Costly Appeal?

Michigan Marriage Ban Co-Author Goes 'Moral'

BTL's Wedding Expo: Like Pride in April

Snyder Says Marriages Invalid

Elected Officials, Advocates Petition Schuette To Drop Marriage Appeal

Request To Remove Stay Based On Process And Substance

Schuette Lies To Satisfy Political Base

DOCUMENTS: The decision, the stay, and more

BREAKING: Holder Asked To Recognize Michigan Marriages

Michigan Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

BREAKING: Sixth Circuit Court Of Appeals Issues Temporary Stay On Michigan Case

BREAKING: Same-Sex Couples Across Michigan Get Hitched

BREAKING: Judge Friedman Declares Michigan's Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

Judge Could Rule Late Today In Mich. Marriage Ban

Michigan Marriage Trial: And Now We Wait

Editor's Viewpoint: Our Long Journey To Justice

Federal Marriage Case Decisions Outside Michigan In Circuit Court of Appeals

Peers Distance Themselves As Regnerus Takes The Stand

Marriage Supporters, Protestors Brave Cold At Courthouse

Highlights From Michigan Same-Sex Marriage Hearing

Brown Says Schuette Instructed Clerks To Defy Court

Michigan Marriage Equality Trial Begins Second Week

Marriage Equality Trial Opens : Science v. Fear

Michigan Marriage Center Prepares State For The Possibility!

Michigan Marriage Case Begins

A Trial Full of Experts: Incredible and Not So Credible, In Hazel Park Case

like us on facebook follow us on twitter follow us on google+