Interactive Theater of Jef
Jef was a member of TOUCH, North Carolina’s touring mime theater ensemble. With TOUCH, he created, collaborated on, directed, and performed over fifty mime theater works, presenting thousands of performances to audiences throughout the southeastern United States.
TOUCH performed in hospitals and prisons, day care centers and college fine arts centers, in concert halls, and on television. They appeared at Lincoln Center’s Out-of-Doors Festival in New York and the Alternate ROOTS Festival in Atlanta. The North Carolina Symphony and the Charlotte Symphony both commissioned TOUCH to create and perform original works in concert with them. In 1990, TOUCH received the North Carolina Theater Conference Award for Excellence in Theater for Youth.
One of his most noticed, but anonymous performances was energizing the crowd as the mascot for the Durham Bulls Baseball Team, Wool E. Bull, which Jef created. His current shows include:
Roving: My InterACTive Theater is designed specifically for celebrations, festivals, street fairs and first nights. Whether outdoors or in, I weave through the crowd sharing my wacky brand of roving artistry which includes mime, juggling, mask work and variety arts. Festival goers become willing participants, interacting with me by creating faces for my masks, juggling with me, posing for photos with my masterpiece camera and even playing a game of human-sized ring toss with one another.
My brand street performing is relaxed and approachable. It appeals to the imagination and playfulness inherent in all of us. It creates camaraderie amongst audience members, invites the comfortable participation of the onlookers, and adds a bit of old school street theater spice to any event.
Family Stages: As well as roving a festival site, he enjoys appearing onstage in the family or children’s area of a festival. All of his roving work translates wonderfully to short (30 minute) stage sets which require minimal set up and fit perfectly into a festival format.
Opening Act: Because of his appeal to audience members of all ages, he routinely performs as an opening act or entr’acte either onstage as a curtain raiser, or in front of the stage while a changeover occurs on the stage itself.
Arts EducationWhen he shares his performances in schools and libraries, he usually includes a short performance followed by a lecture-demonstration or workshop on topics such as mime, non-verbal communication or juggling
- Included in the NC Arts Council’s Touring Artist Directory
- Designated a Teaching Artist by the North Carolina Arts Council
- Included on the roster of the South Carolina Arts Commission
- Fellow with the A+ Schools Program in North Carolina
He has appeared in two UNC-TV special productions with the North Carolina Symphony: TOUCH Brings Music to Life, and Carnival of the Animals. When his movement/mime skills have been needed, he has also appeared in productions by other theater companies, including: as a mime with Omimeo in Charlotte, NC; as the plant, Audrey II in Atlanta and Raleigh productions of Little Shop of Horrors; as The Mute in Flat Rock Playhouse and Temple Theater productions of The Fantasticks; with his juggling partner, Ken Kaye, and as a street performer/juggler in the opera Pagliacci.
- As a mime, he apprenticed with C.W. Metcalf and Tony Montanaro, with brief instruction from Jacques Lecoq.
- His other studies include:
- Acting with William Hickey at the H.B. Studio
- Clowning with Ezekiel Peterhof
- Period Dance and Style with William Burdick
- Commedia dell’arte with Joan Schirle and Donald Forrest at the Dell’Arte School
- Ballet with Beverly Shalomith
- Modern dance with Carol Richards
- Tai Chi Chuan with Frank Won
- Other skills gained along the way include:
- Juggling and variety arts
- gourd crafting.