Peter Abbott: Grafton’s mime

I’m going to say one word to you, and one word only.

Mime.

Peter Abbott

You cringed, didn’t you?

Peter Abbott

Meet Peter Abbott.

He was a Grafton native who went on to international acclaim for his work as a mime. An exhibit of memorabilia associated with his life is now on display at the Grafton Historical Society, which saw a lot of visitors Sunday as part of Grafton Celebrates the Holidays.

Peter Abbott

Peter Abbott, who died in 1985 at the age of 32,  was the founder and director of the Mime Studio in Worcester and “the driving force behind the New England Mime Festival,” according to the Historical Society.

At the time of his death, he was a featured performer for the 400-year-old Benneweis Circuis in Denmark.

Peter Abbott

I Googled Abbott and came up sadly short, save for a truly lovely post by Jeff on Wormtown Taxi where he recalls his friend’s short life:

Back around 1970 or so, Peter Abbott told me that he was going to study to be a mime. We were hanging out at the Grafton Common, where everybody hung out in those days. “A MIME???” I asked, in utter shock.

Peter Abbott

And really, mime aversion aside, how can you not adore the notion of a guy who grew up in Grafton choosing a very unconventional path, with good humor and clear vision, and doing well at it?

Peter Abbott

Mime.

Means something different to you now, doesn’t it?

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10 thoughts on “Peter Abbott: Grafton’s mime

  1. I studied under Peter when his studio was on the third floor on 100 Grove St, Worcester. Around that time The Grove Street Gallery had used the third floor space; but space constrains and such caused a moved to the the second floor. Peter then began renting the third floor studio and turned the old gallery space into workshop/living space. I was told that he began the art of Mime after he had broken his back in a motorcycle accident. – He will always be missed.

  2. I had trained and performed with the Pocket Mime Theater of Boston and the National Mime Theater-Prior to that I had trained as a dancer with Tandy Beal.

    I had advertised in the Boston Phoenix newspaper for a street performing partner. Peter responded.
    We did a little street together, but parted ways. I went on tho be a cast member of “Catch a Rainbow” ABC television.

    And in 1979 did the first New England Mime Festival in Greenfield, Mass.
    A year or two later Peter called and invited me to his New England Mime Festival.
    We ended up doing Abbott and Scalise. We toured nationally from colleges to festivals.

    We created Pipo and Giuseppe’, two commedia characters with false noses. People loved us.

    We did a performance at the Lincoln Center Plaza and John Towsen of New York Clown festival said-“I have never seen such genuine pathos done on the street.”

    We had an audience with mt friend-Marcel Marceau at the Wilbur theater in Boston-Marcel loved our work and called Peter a “Great Clown”.

    Peter went to Paris in 1984 and ended up with Benneweis Circus at the Tivoli gardens. I went to Greece and when I returned I formed the Wright Brothers Comedy troupe.

    Peter went back to Denmark where after taking bite of an apple died of heart failure in his dressing room

    At Peter’s memorial at Mechanics Hall I did a eulogy as Giuseppe in which I suggested that he would some day “Reinclownate.”

    Jody Scalise

  3. I am selling the “Freihofers 75th Anniversary” Poster by Steve Robie, of Peter Abbott’s Touring Mime Circus, for Best Offer.

  4. I met Peter while I was street performing back in 1983, I was 13 and part of the “Amazing Force” a Worcester breakdancing crew. The robot/pop was my specialty so Peter approached me and said I was very talented and that he would like to collaborate. Well, me being a street kid and all, I was very apprehensive until he started showing me his talent and I was like “wow” lol I hung out with him and learned a lot in that year and a half but most of all what I remember was his heart for people and he was always so positive and encouraging. I felt like I found a long lost uncle. The thought of him always brings a smile to my face. I wish I could meet a friend or family member of his so that I can express my gratitude and condolences.

  5. Dear R Feliciano,
    I’m so glad you experienced and appreciated Peter. He was always so positive and inspiring! A bright and shining ‘anything is possible’ say yes to everything light.
    It was through Peter I became involved in the arts and theatre as well.
    We were engaged to be married at the time of his death in Copenhagen which was absolutely devastating for me. His Mom Patti Abbott Calvo passed several years ago and I don’t know of anyone else with whom he was close. I think of Peter often, and especially at Easter time of year, as we celebrated the holiday in a personal special way, stemming I guess from his being named Peter Abbott, his Mom’s little take off on Peter Rabbit. 🙂
    Thank you for your kind words and appreciation of Peter. There is amazingly little to be found of him and his great spirit online, as the 1980’s were a time of newsprint and telephone lines.
    So thank you for expressing your appreciation!

  6. Peter was my first inspiration to be a clown. I first saw him perform at Worcester Center and his performance blew me away! I have now been a “home town clown” for 20 years and I keep my “Summer’s World” pin of him with my clown gear in memory.

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