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Alice Wilson/Vine Pewter M.U.T.E.S. Interview

By on February 18, 2012

Alice Wilson of Milwaukee's The MUTES

I enjoy Will Farrel and dick jokes as much as the next guy, but I’m also the kind of guy who’s always on the lookout for comedy that has the balls to be unique. The Marvellous Unspeaking Troupe of Entertaining Scouldrels are an example of such comedy, relying on such silent film-era staples as prat falls, sight gags, and slapstick to entertain. And you don’t need to visit Chicago, New York, or Los Angeles to get on board their band wagon. The M.U.T.E.S. are quietly honing their craft right here in Wisconsin. And yes, that shitty pun was completely intended.

There’s a dream like quality to watching a M.U.T.E.S. sketch: Beautiful women and bungling men adorned in the onyx and alabaster of the silver screen struggling with absurdity while the Brechtian punk cabaret songs of the Dresden Dolls fill the theatre. I recently contacted one of the troupe’s founding members Alice Wilson, otherwise known on stage as the beguiling Vine Pewter. I wasn’t very surprised when Alice informed me the idea to form the M.U.T.E.S. came to her in a dream. Since that fateful night the troupe has performed at such Brew City big deals as the Milwaukee Film Festival, the Milwaukee Comedy Festival, and Pridefest.

[dcs_hightlight rounded=”0″]JNC:[/dcs_hightlight] What causes the sort of dreams that would spawn something as unique and inventive as the M.U.T.E.S.?

[dcs_hightlight rounded=”0″]AW:[/dcs_hightlight] I’m admittedly obsessed with vintage EVERYTHING, particularly from the 1920’s through the 1950’s. I had been trying to think of a way to mesh this obsession with theatre for a very long time!

[dcs_hightlight rounded=”0″]JNC:[/dcs_hightlight] I’m not aware of another act quiet like what you guys are doing. What aspects of silent comedy have you explored thus far, beyond the obvious?

[dcs_hightlight rounded=”0″]AW:[/dcs_hightlight] We have incorporated sound effects like they began doing in Chaplin films during the 1950s, played with having only one item in color, and of course using intertitles on black foam core, or projected when possible.

[dcs_hightlight rounded=”0″]JNC:[/dcs_hightlight] One final question. What’s the troupe’s goal at any given performance?

[dcs_hightlight rounded=”0″]AW:[/dcs_hightlight] First and foremost we all want to entertain. Personally, the sound of laughter is like oxygen to me. I also have this idea that we are breathing new life into something old by putting a contemporary spin on it. Our hope is that new generations will discover the beauty and talent in silent films after seeing us!

[dcs_hightlight rounded=”0″]JNC:[/dcs_hightlight] If the M.U.T.E.S. successfully turn one person onto the amazing comedy of Stan Laurel, or Fatty Arbuckle then you’ve all done something wonderful, indeed!

The M.U.T.E.S. official website:

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J. Nathan Couch

About J. Nathan Couch

J. Nathan Couch is an author and paranormal investigator. He is part of the Wisconsin-based Paranormal Investigation and Research Society, and guides ghost walks and bus tours in support of Washington County Paranormal. His new book Goatman: Flesh or Folklore? is available now.


  1. J. Nathan Couch

    February 18, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    I agree! Maybe they can do a Wisconsin Sickness show some time.

  2. Chuk

    February 18, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    I REALLY have to catch a M.U.T.E.S. show soon!

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