“Musicians of Silence”: MUMMENSCHANZ returns to the Annenberg

Formed in Paris in 1972, Swiss troupe MUMMENSCHANZ broke ground in nonverbal theater and silent storytelling, impressing audiences around the world. MUMMENSCHANZ’s latest program, 40 YEARS, combines longtime favorites from four decades of international tours with some new visual theater skits.

MUMMENSCHANZ uses everyday objects (like toilet paper) and colorful abstract shapes and forms to transform the ordinary into extraordinary. Their name combines “mummen”, the German word for disguise, and “schanz” from the French word for chance. According to founder Bernie Schurch, MUMMENSHANZ “are musicians of the silence.” The stories have no sound or music so the language of the company transcends cultural barriers.

40 YEARS features over twenty segments exploring relationships, daily activities such as eating, the magic of a giant slinky tossing a red balloon, and other inventive topics. All the characters—a giant gray hand, masked performers, a green Muppet-like man, a huge lump of cloth that engulfs the front rows of the audience—are portrayed by four skilled theater artists. Founder Floriana Frassetto is still part of the cast and is performing in this show.

The five performances form part of the Dance Celebration Series produced by the Annenberg Center with Dance Affiliates. MUMMENSCHANZ previously appeared as part of Dance Celebrationin 2010-11 and 2001-02. [Annenberg Center, 3680 Walnut Street] December 11-14, 2014; annenbergcenter.org.

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Christopher Munden

Your faithful correspondent and publisher Christopher Munden has written and edited for many publications, websites, and cultural institutions. He was an editor/publisher of the Philly Fiction book series, collections of short stories written by local writers and set in Philadelphia. He's also a soccer coach and a pretty good skier.