Since having had such a wonderful experience taking my older son to see the original world musical "Sita Ram" performed on stage in Chicago last month, I've been on the hunt for other new, diverse cultural experiences to help continue to bring the world alive for both of our sons. And, I am happy to say that I've found another one: the 40th anniversary tour of MUMMENSCHANZ. The world-renowned, Switzerland-based performance theater company stops in Chicago next weekend (Friday, January 18 and Saturday, January 19) for two special performances at the Harris Theater for Dance and Music. And, I can't wait.
If you watched Sesame Street or The Muppet Show as a child (or a parent), you may already be a fan of MUMMENSCHANZ - even if you don't know it. The theatre company brings common materials and everyday objects (such as wires, tubes, fabrics and different shapes) to life as unique, witty and timeless characters - thrilling audiences of all ages along the way. In each of its peformances on stage or on screen, MUMMENSCHANZ tells a story, evokes universal emotions, and strikes a common chord in people - without the use of any words or music.
The Power of the Unspoken Word for People Around the World
Since its inception in 1972 by Bernie Schürch, Andres Bossard and Floriana Frassetto, MUMMENSCHANZ has created and perfected a non-verbal theatrical language that transcends the traditional. The company had its breakthrough during an extended Broadway run in New York City from 1977 to 1980. It was the first and only time a show without words or music succeeded on Broadway for three consecutive years. Since then, MUMMENSCHANZ has taken its innovative brand of silent, imaginative performance on the road, touching and delighting audiences around the world.
"It has been so fascinating and such an honor to have an instrument of communication that transcends different mentalities and cultures," said MUMMENCHANZ co-founder Floriana Frassetto. "The animated world we create awakens the playful child in people all over the world. I never thought for even one second that MUMMENSCHANZ would be so popular and for such a long time."
By using common objects to strike a common emotion in all of us, MUMMENSCHANZ has been able to transcend age, race, nationality, ethnicity and spoken language. Each of its timeless characters and color forms has an uncanny ability to make anyone laugh at everyday challenges. That along with the theatre group's ability to reach and awaken the inner child in all of us - no matter our age, culture or background - is what has kept MUMMENSCHANZ in the hearts of so many people of all ages for so many years.
A Celebration of 40 Years of MUMMENSCHANZ
Over the last forty years, MUMMENSCHANZ has performed on six of the seven continents and in more than 60 countries. In celebration of its 40th anniversary, MUMMENSCHANZ has returned to North America with a special full-length program, visiting 13 cities from November 2012 to March 2013. The complete North American tour schedule is available here.
Most performances are two-hours in length (with intermission) and include nearly 30 sketches. The Saturday matinee in Chicago, part of the MUMMENSCHANZ Family Series, is a one-hour performance - a perfect option for children who prefer to sit for a shorter period of time. All performances feature incredible, playful characters that have rarely been performed in North America, as well as many of the most popular MUMMENSCHANZ characters.
"I have so many favorite characters from our peformances and each one shows the incredible magic that a simple material can bring to people everwhere," said Ms. Frassetto.
Some of these "magical" objects that have been transformed into popular MUMMENSCHANZ characters include a cube, toilet paper, a clay mask and a white sheet.
New for the 40th anniversary tour, the MUMMENSCHANZ North American performances introduce a sketch with three geometric forms - a triangle, square and circle - that need to work together to try to build a totem-pole shape. The magic of MUMMENSCHANZ shines through in the theatre company's ability to humanize the three objects, give each of them a unique personality, and enable them to speak to everyone's heart. We can only help but cheer on the simple, colorful shapes in their efforts to find success - together.
The True Beauty of MUMMENSCHANZ for Me and My Family
Today, while the world seems to be getting smaller and smaller, it can feel like we're still divided by our languages, beliefs, cultures or traditions. While my husband and I are working hard to try to open up our sons to the world through learning a new language, meeting people from other cultures, and discovering new traditions, I know it's hard and it takes a lot of time and effort. To me, that's what is so beautiful about MUMMENSCHANZ.
With just one sketch using a few rolls of toilet paper, simple shapes or a white sheet, the theatre company brings characters to life and makes us laugh, cry and even love - together. No matter what language we speak, no matter where we live, no matter how old we are, and no matter what traditions we follow, we all feel the same emotions. That's pretty powerful - and just one of the reasons I hope MUMMENSCHANZ continues to tour the globe for at least 40 more years.
MUMMENSCHANZ Performance and Ticket Information
Dates and Time:
- Friday, January 18 at 7:30 p.m. (2 hours with intermission)
- Saturday, January 19 at 2 p.m. (1 hour)
The MUMMENSCHANZ performances will be held at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, which is located at 205 E. Randolph Drive at the north end of Millennium Park in downtown Chicago. Directions to the theatre can be found here.
Tickets are still available for both Chicago performances of MUMMENSCHANZ, and can be purchased online on the Harris Theater for Music and Dance website. The tickets for the Saturday matinee cost less since it is shorter than the Friday evening peformance (1 hour vs. 2 hours).
MUMMENSCHANZ appeals to people of all ages, and is recommended for ages six to 106.
Here's to world citizens - and reawakening the inner child in all of us!