Background

“We’re here to provoke and evoke emotions”

It’s often imitated, but its art remains unattainable: MUMMENSCHANZ has been mesmerizing audiences, young and old, for 50 years. To mark this anniversary, Swiss Post is dedicating a stamp to the theatre troupe. An interview with Floriana Frassetto, the co-founder of the cult group.

Claudia Iraoui

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Two characters from MUMMENSCHANZ
With its “50 Years” programme, MUMMENSCHANZ takes audiences on a journey full of imagination and poetry, performing its most famous sketches from the past 50 years. (Copyright: Noe Flum, MUMMENSCHANZ Foundation)

The MUMMENSCHANZ theatre group was founded in 1972. Can you tell us how it came about?

The group was essentially Andres Bossard and Bernie Schürch, whose work focused on gestures and words. I met them by chance in Rome, and our paths crossed again in Paris in 1971. MUMMENSCHANZ was created in the following year, when we removed the words from the spoken scenes and replaced them with abstract gestures. We were a constructive and creative trio and performed shows in front of audiences at factories and department stores. We never imagined this adventure would last for more than a few months…

Where does the name come from?

The name MUMMENSCHANZ has two origins. Firstly, it comes from German, as the term “vermummt”, from which “mummen” is derived, means to camouflage, disguise or mask. Secondly, “Schanz” is the Germanicism of the French word “chance” – good fortune.

Your 50th anniversary, and you’re still going strong. How have you achieved that?

The recipe for success is a poetic, playful and interactive simplicity that allows the audience to enjoy themselves and use their imagination. I think the audience is grateful for the absence of music, lights and complex elements. Despite the technological world we live in, where we only have to press a button to communicate, people feel a lack of emotion. We’re here to provoke and evoke emotions.

Image of Anna Frassetto

What makes MUMMENSCHANZ’s comedy so universal?

We attempt to reawaken the child in different cultures. That child is similar everywhere – there are no borders. MUMMENSCHANZ is a visual performance with no music or words, but it is full of emotion and imagination. It’s an interactive show where everyone – whether young or old – can imagine absolutely anything and see an interior world through abstract forms. The stories we present have simple plot lines that everyone can relate to in one way or another.

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What role does audience laughter play in silent theatre?

We thrive on audience reaction, otherwise our shows wouldn’t work. Laughter and comments from children provide us with rhythm in the absence of music. Switching between moments of concentration and laughter is what gives MUMMENSCHANZ its energy.

What does having a stamp dedicated to MUMMENSCHANZ mean to you?

It’s an incredible honour! To tell the truth, we’ve always dreamed of having our very own stamp. As that hasn’t been possible until now, we had to make do with the stamps you can create online. But now we’ve got our own stamp, so we don’t need to do that anymore... (laughs)

MUMMENSCHANZ stamp

The special stamp pays tribute to MUMMENSCHANZ’s two most famous characters: “Giant Hands” open the curtain for “Slinkyman”. The stamp is available at all Swiss Post branches and from postshop.ch.

Autograph session

Meet the co-founders of MUMMENSCHANZ, Bernie Schürch and Floriana Frassetto, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 24 March 2022 at the St. Gallen 1 branch.

 

written by

Claudia Iraoui

Channel Manager Digital