Dorothy Estabrook Kindred
One of St. James’s most treasured traditions is the Good Friday Mime. In the 1940s, when the church school swelled to over 600 members, there were Lenten plays produced on a weekly basis. The Mime was introduced in the late 1930s with music arranged by Hugh Ross, noted for leading the Schola Cantorum beginning in 1927.
My grandmother, Dorothy Estabrook Kindred, left the University of Chicago to pursue an acting career on Broadway at about this same time. After appearing in multiple plays, she and my grandfather arrived in Scarsdale where she quickly became active at St. James. For almost two decades, she directed both the Mime and the Christmas Pageant.
The Mime as presented Good Friday, 1954.
During this time in the church’s history, there was an enormous emphasis on theatrics. Children, directors, producers, stage hands (all of whom were volunteers), worked tirelessly to bring the dramatic arts to Scarsdale. Louise Clark’s book From Rural Church to Suburban Parish beautifully details these plays and the important role they played in the life of our church. It is a gift to be able to scroll through the pages and learn about what was happening at St. James the Less all those years ago.
My father (Brook Kindred) directed
the Mime for many years, embracing
his mother’s ability to meld
her passion for the theatre with her
deeply held religious beliefs. For a
time, I worked with him when Tabitha
and Kiki were quite young and had
small parts (though my grandmother
always reminded my sister and me when we received small parts in
school plays, that “there are no small
parts, only small actors.”). At one time, we were four generations involved
with this most beloved of traditions.
The Mime as presented Good Friday, 2010.
I remember listening to my father’s direction
and hearing the voice of my grandmother,
who was always the Director, even
when it came to daily tasks. She taught us all
how to speak clearly and enunciate. The spoken
word was of utmost importance, and all
her grandchildren were determined to impress
her with our careful speech.
For the past nine years, Justin Bischof,
our Director of Music, has provided the music
for the Mime in the French tradition. His
mastery of the art of improvisation means
that he is able to coordinate the movement
of the actors with his music in a way that is
as precise as it is evocative. For the past seven
years, the Mime has been directed by the
talented Geoff Loftus. Both he and Justin
create an exceptionally moving rendition of
the Stations of the Cross.
I am proud to be a part of this moving artistic tradition at St. James
the Less, and I look forward to seeing you at this year’s Mime on Good Friday, April 3, 2015, at 7:30 p.m.