Mummenschanz: The Art of No Noise
What Mummenschanz does isn't quite dance, not exactly clowning, nor is it mime, but it might be a combination of all three in something that might be best described as physical poetry. Regardless, if the point of art is to open your heart, then Mummenschanz is directly on task. For 50 years, the silent absurdist theater troupe has charmed audiences from their home base in Switzerland to Broadway and all around the world.
The troupe's latest incarnation, a show called You & Me, plays Saturday, March 14 at 8 p.m. at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex at Cal State L.A.
In an age where everyone's plugged in and tuned out from what's happening around them, against a black stage without a set, Mummenschanz uses masks, light, shadow, costumes, physicality and humor to evoke wonder, empathy, laughs and love.
In a way, Mummenschanz is like a surreal Rorschach test—each person will come away slightly changed in their own unique way. "On the surface, it's incredibly humorous, and anyone who does not leave without giggling or bursting into laughter at some point was likely asleep. But under the whimsy and wit, it points to the unique ways in which we perceive and make sense of our world in terms of patterns and recognizable objects, mostly our own physical form. It's like looking at clouds or oddly-shaped food and discovering a face, or even the broader ways in which we anthropomorphize objects," wrote Cheryl Callon in a review for TheaterJones.com.
Even though there was probably no way the three founders in 1972 could have imagined the magnitude of how busy and noisy and digital the world would become, they almost certainly knew that by now, we'd really need to sit in the dark and feel some feelings.
Luckman Fine Arts Complex's Mummenschanz