Cesar Aedo: Storyteller without Words

He draws himself up to his full five-feet-five-inches, squares his slim shoulders, puts on a fierce scowl, and becomes the proud, hulking Goliath, defying the Hebrew armies. The next second, he is young David, tripping lightly over the hillside with his sling.

Then, just as quickly, he becomes a weary pioneer drawing his heavily loaded handcart across the American plains. The straining, flexed biceps and every labored step of his muscular legs bespeak struggle.

No words are spoken, but one hears in the heart, and understands.

Cesar Aedo is a mime, rapidly becoming well-known in Europe. A former pupil of French master Marcel Marceau, he has performed publicly and on television in Germany, France, and Switzerland, as well as in several countries of South and Central America. In May of 1984, he made his American debut. Now he has signed a contract with one of western Europe’s top circuses, Circus KNIE.

On and offstage, he seems energetic, spontaneous, intense. It becomes apparent in hearing him talk of his background that the intensity he puts into performing is typical of the commitment he has put into all the other things he considers worthwhile in life.

Brother Aedo is a returned missionary, a native of Lima, Peru. It was a struggle for his father, a tailor, to provide basic necessities for his large family. But young Cesar was very eager to obtain an education, and to obey the prophet’s counsel that he should go on a mission. He knew it would require his own effort to enjoy these blessings. So—as the story was told in a 1982 Primary manual—he worked washing and polishing cars near his school to pay for his own schooling and, afterward, for the mission. The mission meant so much to him that he would not allow a bout with appendicitis to keep him down for long. Five days after surgery, he was back teaching and tracting. “I have work to do. I am a missionary,” he explained matter-of-factly.

After his mission, he studied sociology at Villareal University in Lima. But his first love was the performing arts, so he studied those too. In fact, his study of performing had begun much earlier, at age six. He faithfully attended religious instruction classes in the church to which he then belonged because afterward there were old movies for the youngsters, and he was enthralled by the silent film comedy of Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and Harold Lloyd. Cesar was nine when missionaries brought the gospel to his family. By eleven, he was performing in his LDS branch’s talent shows.

After studying at Villareal University, Brother Aedo wanted to go to Europe for more advanced schooling in political science. He worked his way through several South and Central American countries performing as a mime until he had saved enough money to fly to Europe. “I went to Europe on my talent, nothing more,” he recalls.

A series of events he considers providential prevented him from enrolling immediately. He spent several weeks in late 1979 and early 1980 visiting with his sister in Geneva, Switzerland—long enough to determine that instead of political science he wanted to study mime with the man who is widely recognized as the master. Brother Aedo knew that through his faith it would happen, if he persevered. So he returned to Paris and was persistent enough that he was finally able to see Marcel Marceau and become one of his pupils.

He spent three years studying with Monsieur Marceau—not only the art of mime, but also dramatic art, classical and modern dance, acrobatics, and fencing. He was one of the few pupils able to earn his tuition and expenses through weekend performances and summer touring. Now he is studying with the man who taught the master, Monsieur Marceau’s eighty-six-year-old mentor, Etienne Decroux. He is also continuing his study of classical dance.

Comedy is a major part of his art. One of his distinctive sketches depicts a traveler who cannot leave because his overloaded suitcase will not budge. The suitcase hangs at the end of the mime’s arm, all the exertions of his body seemingly unable to move it—until he opens the bag and throws out one handkerchief!

His art also has its serious side. “I have much faith in Christ,” he emphasized, adding that talent is given to us on earth to help others, as the Savior taught. Brother Aedo uses his talent to help in obvious ways, by bringing cheer to others and, he hopes, by portraying uplifting aspects of life.

He likes to dramatize some of the stories of the scriptures. Typically, he illustrates with a demonstration. First, he is the humble, saintly brother making his offering to God, and then he is the proud, jealous, cruel one. An observer can feel the piety of Abel and the wrath of Cain.

Cesar Aedo’s art has also helped others in some very tangible ways. Through performing, he has been able to support one of his brothers on a mission to Canada and to bring two other brothers to Paris for schooling.

“I have been able to help all my family. I don’t want to praise myself; I owe thanks to God that I have been able to do this.”

Now thirty, he attends the Paris Singles Ward. Though his life to this point has been full of work, study, and service to others, he looks forward to marrying and building a family.

“Ya viene,” is his expression, common in Spanish-speaking countries. “It will come.”