Arts and Entertainment

Silence is golden in a show at Open Space

Rob Mermin is inspired by silent film stars such as Buster Keaton.  - Courtesy Photo
Rob Mermin is inspired by silent film stars such as Buster Keaton.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

The ghostly, golden era of silent film will come back to life this weekend, when an acclaimed performer brings a one-man show featuring a dazzling array of clips from 100 silent comedies and dramas to Open Space  for Arts & Community.

Rob Mermin, who has had a 40-year career in circus, theater, television and film, is the mastermind behind “Silents Are Golden: A Celebration of Silent Cinema,” which premiered at The Green Mountain Film Festival in 2007.

“I love presenting this program,” says Mermin. “I have taken this show to several countries, and it is like bringing adults to the circus for the first time in decades, and watching a childlike wonder and delight return to their faces.”

Mermin said his intention is to shed new light on the physical acting style of the silent era and to give modern audiences a fresh and entertaining look at what made the silent stars shine so brightly.

Clips from films featuring such luminaries as Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish, Rudolph Valentino, Greta Garbo, Douglas Fairbanks, Norma Shearer, Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and Fatty Arbuckle are woven into his performance.

Mermin’s website,, includes a lengthy description of how he immersed himself in the world of silent film to create the show.

“During a long Vermont winter, I watched 100 silent features — dramas, epics, adventures, comedies — with a keen focus on acting styles,” Mermin wrote. “No TV, no modern films for four months — it was pure delight!”

The show has won much acclaim; one reviewer who saw it in Galway, Ireland, said the performance was “a brilliant evocation of the silent screen era and a loving homage to its stars. The evening was at times poignant, personal, humorous, and thoroughly entertaining.”

Mermin is a classically trained pantomime actor, teacher, and director. He studied with mime masters Marcel Marceau and Etienne Decroux and is the founder of the award-winning international youth touring company Circus Smirkus.

His performance marks an expansion in the offerings at Open Space. With theater, music, circus skills and even some visual arts already presented in the new space, this is the first time that Open Space has dived into the art of film.

According to Maria Glanz, who works with Open Space, it’s “appropriate that the true emphasis of the program is on physical acting.”

“Silents Are Golden: A Celebration of Silent Cinema” will be presented at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 12, at Open Space for Arts & Community, at 18870 103rd Ave. S.W. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets, $10 general, $5 for children 12 and younger and free for those 2-years-old and younger, are on sale at, Books by the Way and Vashon Bookshop.

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