Mummenschanz, Switzerland, 2009

“..audiences were astonished at the magical performance of these Swiss artists…who gave them this incredible imagination and ability to bring out so much more than theatre alone.”
---Lun Bing, Beijing Youth Daily

 

"Mummenschanz"challenges innovation

From May 20th to 22nd 2009, the world-renowned Swiss visual theatre group Mummenschanz brought their newest evolution theatrical form”3×11” to China.

Four artists from Mummenschanz use endless imagination and various props to act out humans’ hidden emotions and relationships. The group received critical acclaim for their spectacular and revolutionary nonverbal theatrical style.

Without background music or lines, Mummenschanz highlights its amazing idea of turning everyday objects and materials into abstract forms. The group uses lighting effects instead of background to create a mysterious atmosphere, through this they engage in a wordless dialogue with the audience and create a non-verbal theatrical language that would transcend the traditional barriers of nationality and culture.

Biography

In 1972, Bernie Schürch and Andres Bossard, both from Switzerland, with Italian-American Floriana Frassetto formed their now celebrated visual theater group. They gave themselves an original name, Mummenschanz (roughly meaning masquerade), and set out with a sense of fun and imagination to invent a new form of theater. Though each had a different background, the three artists were united by a common goal: to create a non-verbal theatrical language that would transcend the traditional barriers of nationality and culture.

From their first major success at the Avignon Festival 1972, they have been performing in Western and Eastern Europe to North and South America, from Middle East and Africa to Asia, Australia and New Zealand, including the most renowned worldwide festivals. They performed for 3 years at the Bijou Theater on Broadway defying all expectations and being enthusiastically reviewed by the world`s most important magazines and newspapers.

Since their first performance, these talented artists have thrilled audiences around the world with a spectacular and revolutionary nonverbal theatrical style. In more than three decades, Mummenschanz has created an extraordinary number of well-loved figures and fantasy creatures in the shape of versatile face masks, half-body or whole-body masks and three-dimensional sculptural heads.

On the stage, they amazingly turn everyday objects and materials into abstract forms, simple costumes and expressive masks, and engage in a wordless dialogue with the audience. The stories and episodes, filled with humor and imagination, deal with human relationships which can be understood by any audience around the world, across any linguistic and cultural boundaries.

The death of Andres Bossard in 1992 was a great loss for Mummenschanz.

Floriana Frassetto and Bernie Schürch came to terms with their new circumstances and with the help of the longtime friend Hans Jörg Tobler, they established the Mummenschanz Foundation, with the aim of helping new non verbal theaters.

In that period they also created and toured "Parade" and "Next", a new dimension of their visual art, performed with different actors.

Since the year 2000, Mummenschanz has become a company of five with Pietro Montandon, Raffaella Mattioli and the technical director Jan Lukas.

"3 x 11" A 33 years retrospective on the Mummenschanz

Mummenschanz "3X11", the evolution of this wordless theatrical form, is presented for the first time in the major cities around China including Beijing, Shanghai, Dalian, Suzhou and Hangzhou. A total of 11 incredible shows in 3 weeks of tour.

 

From the first performance at the Sydney Theatre in the 2006, the "3x11" show has conquered stages all around the world. After the successful tour in Australia and New Zealand, the troupe performed in various South American countries before opening the curtain on their Swiss Tour 2006/2007 on June 14th at the prestigious Théatre du Jorat in Mézières.

 

On April 10th 2008, after 170 sold out performances with over 145.000 enthusiastic spectators, praise and applauses closed the acclaimed Swiss tour. From there, after an uncountable number of performances in Europe, they appeared in Egypt where the "3x11" was performed for the 20 year anniversary of the Cairo Opera and from May to July that same year, they fascinated audiences in Israel and South Africa.

 

Starting from 2009, the "3X11" show has reappeared in Europe prior to the scheduled May 20th debut in the Chinese capital.

 

After this magical China Tour, Mummenschanz will go on entertaining crowds with an incredible calendar of shows among the 4 continents. From The Netherlands and Luxembourg to Brazil and Argentina, from Turkey and Emirates to Korea and Australia.

 

Bernie Schürch – Actor

Bernie Schürch - Mummenschanz Founder, from Switzerland, trained as an actor in Berne before moving on to the Lecoq School in Paris. From 1969 he toured in various clown / theatre shows with his fellow student Andres Bossard. In 1972 they founded Mummenschanz Mask Theatre together with Floriana Frassetto. Schürch's creative passion has remained undiminished ever since.

Floriana Frassetto – Actor

Floriana Frassetto - Mummenschanz founder, Switzerland, studied in the late sixties acting at the Accademia of Alessandro Fersen and mime with Roy Bosier. In 1971 she met Andres Bossard and Bernie Schürch and since then Mummenschanz has become a way of life in which she expresses her ideas with a sense of colours, shapes and effects. Among her most renowned works, the production of W. Goethe's "Faust" under the direction of G. Sbragia and "Oliver Twist" under the direction of I. Baudet.

Raffaella Mattioli – Actor

Raffaella Mattioli - Performer, from Italy, started her classical dance education in Rome and London with Yuriko, Pearl Lang, Mary Hinkson, Noemi Lapzon and others. She has performed as a dancer and actor in countless theatres. In 1989, she went to Prague as a choreographer to Lanterna Magica. She has been responsible for several contemporary theatre festival productions.

Pietro Montandon – Actor

Pietro Montandon - an accomplished actor of the Drama School of the Teatro Stabile di Catania. He worked since 1976 successively with renowned directors like L. Puggelli , A. Pugliese, G. Patroni Griffi, G. Sepe and G. Tornatore. In television and cinema he appeared in dramas, comedies and seat-coms. His first work with Mummenschanz was in a production of W. Goethe's "Faust" under the direction G. Sbragia at the Amphitheatre of Taormina.

Jan Maria Lukas - Technical Director

Jan Maria Lukas - lighting designer, lighting technician and technical director in Vienna, Prague, Munich, Bregenz and Buenos Aires for numerous theatres, opera productions and festivals, such as Bregenz Festival, Munich State Opera, Konzerthaus Berlin, Prague National Theater, El Teatro Flores Buenos Aires. Development of Lighting Design for speech and object theater, fashion shows and pantomimes among others with Hans Peter Horner, Rüdiger Pape, Michael Gampe, Susanne Litzow and Dominique Raffa.

Review:

“..audiences were astonished at the magical performance of these Swiss artists…who gave them this incredible imagination and ability to bring out so much more than theatre alone..”
----Lun Bing, Beijing Youth Daily, October 2003

“The most important thing is the content of their performance, that uses unique ideas instead of artifices. Creativity extends their own artistic lives.”
--- Niu Chunmei, Beijing Daily, May 2009

“A small troupe can have a large effect, this should become our common understanding.”
--- Chen Yuan, People's Daily, May 2009

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