Willesden Green founder of London International Mime festival made OBE

Joseph Seelig awarded OBE for services to theatre

Joseph Seelig awarded OBE for services to theatre - Credit: Archant

A Willesden Green man who has bought mime to the masses for nearly four decades has been made an OBE for services to theatre.

Joseph Seelig, founder and co-director of the London International Mime Festival, received the award in the Queen’s New Year Honours List.

He said: “It’s an honour and I feel very honoured. There are millions whose work is incredible and deserves recognition and not everybody gets what they deserve so I’m very pleased.”

The London International Mime Festival, set up by Mr Seelig in 1977 and now co-directed with Helen Lannaghan, has grown to become the longest running annual theatre season in the capital, which starts this week.

He added: “It’s very nice to create something which continues and has a long life. It’s a festival which takes place in very prestigious venues each January but it’s slightly off the radar or under the radar. It’s historic so it doesn’t really have what people consider to be mime in it, the bloke in the stripey t-shirt, it’s not that, but it’s visual theatre, theatre without any words, which can be puppetry or circus or performance art, all sorts of things.”

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While based in Willesden Green since the early 70’s he has also been artistic director of the Hong Kong and New Zealand festivals.

He is the co-founder of HQ Theatres, one of the largest groups in the country and is an honorary fellow of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London.

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In 2008 he was appointed a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Republic.

The London International Festival starts on Thursday with 64 performances over 24 days from 18 national and international acts, many of which are London or UK premieres.

“It’s one thing to start an event, it’s quite another to keep it going,” he said. “Helen’s been brilliant and it wouldn’t survive without her.”

For information and venues go to mimelondon.com

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