In this fascinating document, Rainbow Sign invites members and friends to dinner, at which will be be provided premier entertainment: a performance of black mime.
Hayward Coleman, a Bay Area native and UC Berkeley alum, had recently returned from studying with the godfathers of mime in Paris: Marcel Marceau and Etienne Decroux. Like so many phenomenal artists making their mark on the international scene, Coleman made Rainbow Sign his first stop on his brief visit back to the states.
At this fundraising dinner, Coleman debuted his character “Spirititus.” Performed in blackface, which a 1979 news release relates “was once required by law of all black mime artists,” Spirititus “portrays through corporal silence the spirit of all human experience.” In line with many other makers of Black Art, Coleman’s work at once critiqued and reimagined black identity while underlining a pan-racial human experience.
Coleman would go on to study with Japanese mime master Mameko, and then to tour with Diana Ross, appearing in 1977 in the TV movie An Evening with Diana Ross, written by Bill Dyer and Ntozake Shange.
Two years prior to his Rainbow Sign appearance, Coleman discovered yoga, something he fused into into his mime practice to great effect. Hailed in France as “Le Nijinksi du mime,” Coleman’s mime-Yoga became like “meditation in motion.” In the 1980s he worked not only as a mime, but as a professional acrobat and stuntman on Miami Vice, from which he sustained many joint and spinal injuries. However, his yoga practice has allowed him to rejuvenate his body. As of 2017, he teaches and practices yoga on the Big Island of Hawaii.