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Marcel Marceau in his character Bip the Clown, Festival Theatre, Adelaide 1981

Marcel Marceau in his character Bip the Clown, Festival Theatre, Adelaide 1981

I first photographed Marcel at the Adelaide Festival Centre in his 1981 Australian Tour. He liked my work and asked me to come to his Melbourne shows. He flew and I drove my old Datsun to Melbourne. When I got there I met Marcel at the Southern Cross Hotel, only to be told I couldn’t shoot the show after all as the wings at Her Majesty’s were too shallow. If I could see him, the audience could see me. He kindly offered to do a special set up before his matinee. I asked to photograph him doing his make-up. He said he would have to think about it and would let me know in an hour. I was bemused. What could be so difficult? Marcel consented, and I had the privilege to watch him as he not only did his own make up for the character Bip, not speaking a word as he worked, but he transformed into him. When he finished he was Bip. It was only then I understood what I’d asked for, and what he’d given me the privilege of watching and photographing. Sadly, Marcel is no longer with us. He died in 2007.