Mummenschanz at GPAC 

Physical theater becomes more commonplace all the time. Cirque du Soleil has become enormously successful, and groups like MOMIX and the Pilobolus dance company have toured the Memphis area. But before all of these groups were a twinkle in their founders' eye, there was Mummenschanz.

In 1976, an unusual three-year-old Swiss performance company that had been touring America went on The Muppet Show, and without uttering a single word, introduced a generation of young viewers to experimental theater, mask play, and a strange new derivation of Commedia dell'arte.

click to enlarge Mummenschanz
  • Mummenschanz

In one memorable bit, two actors in black tights sat side by side, each of their faces covered in amorphous blobs of clay. From his blobby nothingness, one performer sculpted a neat beard, then a nice mustache and some fluffy eyebrows. His less dexterous companion tried to copy the look, but without much success. As the face sculpting grew competitive, both actors morphed into terrifying bird monsters and flapped around, terrorizing one another until their faces collided and and stuck together, turning the two, into a single mess of sticky entanglement. It was silly, sublime, and unlike anything else you were likely to encounter on '70s TV.

The troupe's unusual name is derived from the German word for "mummer," a performer combining mime and mask play. But long before The Lion King or War Horse, Mummenschanz was also exploring the boundaries of puppet work. The latest tour is a retrospective of highlight performances from the company's 40-plus-year history.


Speaking of Mummenschanz, Germantown Performing Arts Center


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment



Beyond the Arc

Grizzlies 101, Nuggets 94: Finally, a Win!

Intermission Impossible

"Drowsy Chaperone" hits, "Laughter on the 23rd Floor" hits walls

We Saw You

Spirit Fest, Butcher's Dinner

News Blog

Supreme Court Sets Two More Execution Dates

News Blog

$28M Raleigh Town Center to Break Ground

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Seven Days In Entebbe

Hungry Memphis

Feast on the Farm with David Krog


Readers also liked…

© 1996-2018

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation