In today’s article, I want you to meet Mimo Poetul (Mime the Poet) – the most famous mime in Cluj-Napoca and clown Copăcel – the most prankish clown in the Central Park. If you live in Cluj and you like to walk in the park, chances are you have met one of them, giving smiles and good mood to everyone.
However, few know who is behind the two characters, how and where they appeared in Cluj. About Mimo Poetul and clown Copăcel, but especially about his own life story, we talked with Tavi Caldarari – the artist who gives life to both of these characters.
“Hello, my name is Octavian Caldarari, but I’m called Tavi – a diminutive I came to like in the recent years and I did not in my childhood when I preferred to be called Octav, because Octav sounds tough and strong.” We laughed and joked about the fact that when we are children, we anxious to grow up, and once we become adults, we long for the years of childhood. Then I asked him him to tell me about his childhood.
“My mother remarried many times and I’ve always been the family intruder”.
“I was born in the Republic of Moldova, he started with a sigh, in a village near the town of Soroca, and I always felt like an intruder in the family I lived in. My mother was quite “diligent” and married many times. So I was brought up by living in different families and different places, forced to live with people who did not really like me”.
“I have unclear memories from the first 5 years of my life. I remember my grandparents’ house, their big and blue door that opened with an old latch. I remember that mam and dad used to argue all the time and the fact that I was usually the one to blame for all the bad things that happened in the family”.
“When I was 4, my mother remarried for the third time with an Iraqi who lived in Romania. AtThis is when we moved to Bucharest where I studied till the 5th form. In the 5th grade, I did a thing that completely changed my life. Since I felt “so happy” in my new family, I ran away from home”.
“If I hadn’t done this, I would probably have become a Muslim by now with some weird name like Ahmed or Jamal. Still, my name is Tavi and I’m glad I did what I did”. We smiled and noticed another confirmed cliché – every child just wants to run away from home at least once in life.
“At the age of 12 I ran away from home. Some people do not believe me, but these things really happened”.
A 12 years old who ran away from home
“I really did it,” continued Tavi. Some people do not believe me, but these things really happened. That weekend my mother went to the Republic of Moldova to meet an aunt who worked in Italy and whom she had not seen for years. I was left in Bucharest with my stepfather I was very afraid of”.
“Time and maturity helped me overcome the hatred I felt for him back then. Now we are friends. But back then, I remember that I always wanted him to suffer, to feel pain for the suffering he has caused me over the years”.
“On the first night after my mother’s departure I dreamed that I ran away from home, so the next day I woke up, I decided to follow my plan. I wrote a goodbye message, I added a bit of drama by wetting it a bit so that people would think that I was crying when I wrote it, I took an atlas with me, I filled my bag with clothes and I left”.
“On the first day I arrived in Gruiu where I became friends with a cat and a little girl who really wanted to take it home. I gave it to her, and her mother offered me 10000 lei. I used the money to buy some bread and some waffles. This was the first money I ever earned”.
“I was very lucky, because during the trip I met only good people who helped me”.
“Back then, I was not afraid of strangers and I didn’t think twice before getting in a car with someone I did not know. Thinking now retrospectively, I know I was very lucky, because during the trip I met only good people who helped me”.
“The next day a bus driver took me to Ploiesti after I told him that I had come to a school trip and that I got lost and separated from the group. Looks like I was already a small film director and I had the acting in me, because the man believed me. With the same story I arrived in Brașov, then in Predeal where I decided to go back to Bucharest”.
“I returned home after three days of adventures in which I visited four cities, I slept in parks and I ate what I could find. The price I had to pay was high. I was sent to live with my grandparents in Moldova where I stayed until high school”.
“Someday I want to repeat the route I made back then and remember all the people that took me by car, who let me on the bus for free, who gave me money and food. If I was to meet one of them, I would thank him and return the favor a 100 times”.
Studies and life lessons
I asked Tavi what it was like to come back to Moldova, if he felt like a stranger and if it was difficult for him to adapt. He sighed. “It was very hard, he admitted, because I knew nothing about Moldova and because I had to learn how to do by myself. But I had an advantage – I spoke Romanian without accent and because of this I was accepted as a reporter-presenter in a TV project for young people”.
“In highschool I helped a veterinarian trim dogs, I worked for a local studio as a reporter and I used to do the homework for my colleagues to earn a living”.
“I was in the 7th grade and I really enjoyed the program. That’s why I wanted to continue in the same field. I spent my high school years in Câmpulung Muscel, Arges County. High school life was very difficult because I had to support myself. The scholarship money was not enough for a living, so I had to do all sorts of things to survive”.
“Several times a week I helped a veterinarian trim dogs. I was paid 20 lei for each puppy. I worked for a local studio as a reporter. I also did homework for my colleagues to make money for cigarettes. After high school I did 2 years at Theater and Television at Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca”.
Mimo Poetul and Poems for 1 leu
We took a short break. I made a few notes and underlined the word poems. “Making pocket money in high school by writing poems – well, this is exciting!” So I asked him for more details about this: when and how did he begin to write, where did he come up with the idea of Poems for 1 leu?
“I started writing poems in the 2nd grade because of a girl. I always have a notebook and when I see someone I like, I give him a poem”.
“I started writing poems in the 2nd grade because of a girl I liked. And with that we are confirming another cliché. The first poem I wrote was a present for someone. I liked the feeling and somehow this remained in my blood”.
“So now, I always carry a notebook and when I see someone I like, I write a poem where I try to capture the personality of the look of that person in order to make him smile. This is how the idea of the project Poems for 1 leu came about. I have thousands of poems written and given as presents. Unfortunately I didn’t keep any copies”.
“In the 2nd year of college I discovered the film “The Secret “. I was very impressed by the idea that we are influenced by the thoughts we have. So I decided to apply the same formula. At that time I was a student, I had no job, I was living in the student hostel and I had many debts. I needed money so I set my goal: 5000 lei in 30 days”.
“The idea came from a 1-leu bill. I remember I looked at it and told myself that I needed 5,000 1 leu bills to reach my target. What could I do for 1 leu? And the answer was: I could write a poem for 1 leu. But how do I sell it? And then I remembered the role of mime that I interpreted when I was admitted to high school. I did not sleep that night. I created my facebook page. I did the math and the next day I started the project Poems for 1 leu. That’s how Mimo Poetul was brought to light.”
Clown Copăcel (little tree)
“I wanted to quit the very first day, I was very embarrassed. To my surprise, people reacted positively, especially when they noticed that I wrote poems on the spot. So I started to earn money. In the first month I earned 2700 lei, this money was a life savior”.
“I started to go out every day as Mimo Poetul. I started practicing, experimenting, writing poems and making people smile. I loved it. This is how I came to know what the best spots and the most suitable hours are; how to approach someone and how to make myself understood without using words”.
“One day, I met Cristian Gog in the Central Park who offered me to be a clown for Fantasmagia. I was reluctant initially, but then I realized that the role suits me, that it allows me to make a plenty of pranks and jokes, and that I could make people smile even more”.
“I started working on the character, writing jokes, watching sketches, reading psychology books and researching. This is how clown Copacel was born – the clown that the Cluj people know today”.
“I want to take the character Mimo Poetul even further. I am working on a poetry book signed by him and recently I started vlogging”.
Mimo Poetul will publish a book
“I want to take the character Mimo Poetul even further. Last year I went with him to iUmor national contest. It was a very interesting experience. I was very nervous. I do not remember anything I did on the stage. It was like in a dream I woke up from after having received 3 likes from the jury”.
“I am also working on a poetry book signed by him. Recently I started vlogging. Last month, I released unknownimagination.com together with my team – this is a project that aims to support the creation of innovative content and out of the box outdoor activities. In the future we dream about having a creative house and shooting a movie”.