I met with Matthew Kritz in the Center for Jewish Life one afternoon to see what he had to say about his newest project: the thirty-years-overdue revival of the Princeton Mime Club. When Matthew saw me across the dining hall, he waved with a white-gloved hand and wove his way through the crowd to our table. He was dressed true to character in a collared rugby shirt, pleated khakis, and a pair of boat shoes that carried him around the CJL as if by their own volition. Matthew is a good listener—his glasses slide down his nose as he cocks an ear in your direction, leaning in to hear you over the clink of silverware.
When he reached me, he set his tray down cautiously. I couldn’t see what was on it, but it was obviously laden with something delicious. He rubbed his stomach with anticipatory gusto when I gestured to it.
Matthew is also an animated storyteller. His white gloves flutter around like panicked doves let out of a cage, and his lips move with each gesture.
He started miming long ago, he said, pointing over his left shoulder. Back then—he paused, scooted his tray to the side and pulled an evidently bulky laptop out of his backpack—he was surfing the Internet when he saw a mime video on YouTube. Sitting across from Matthew, I could almost see the moment, many years ago, when miming caught his fancy. A vision appeared before his eyes, as solid as the wall that he indicated with open palms.
He took his newfound passion to the streets. I wasn’t sure where, exactly, these streets were, as he gestured to the eastern and western sides of the dining hall. From his self-assured expression and the way his chest inflated, I deduced that he considered himself unusually worldly. Given the size of most mimes’ cages, I found this easy to believe.
Matthew halted our conversation to check his phone for a moment. He pulled out a six-inch antenna, flipped up the screen, and perused it before gesturing for me to continue. I asked whether his parents had supported his newfound endeavors. No—that was a bad question. His head sunk, his eyes were downcast, a heavy tear followed the path of his index finger down his cheek. This melancholy was abruptly interrupted when Matthew leaned to the side and spit his evidently distasteful dinner onto the shoes of the girl sitting beside us. Fortunately, she didn’t notice.
Matthew’s Princeton interviewer had been the president of the Mime Club back in the ‘80s, and this shared passion compelled Matthew to make a promise: that he would revive the club after thirty years of defunct silence.
Which brings us to today. Matthew has a sweeping vision for the Princeton Mime Club: big shows (as far as his arms would allow), a welcoming environment for anyone interested in miming, perhaps even collaborative projects with other student groups (he hasn’t had much luck with the a capella groups).
Matthew is a busy mime, and it seemed that he had to get to class on the other side of campus. I thanked him for the conversation and wished him the best of luck for the future of the Princeton Mime Club. As a token of appreciation, he extracted a balloon from his pocket, held it to his lips and blew with excruciating effort. When the balloon was the size of a small beach ball, he tied it up, handed it to me, and puttered away.
I thought I tied the balloon to my backpack, but it’s impossible to tell. Maybe it’s floating through the sky somewhere, invisible to everyone but Matthew. That doesn’t bother me, though. I appreciated the gesture.