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    Volume 9 Issue 15| April 9, 2010|

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(Masquerade) 3 X 11

Neo Mendez

An outsized shaped mouth greedily devours a pink plastic during the Mummenschanz-3x11 performance. Photo: Mumit M.

The publicity postcard states that "Mummenschanz" means masquerade and is a "non-verbal theatrical style". To me Mummenschanz meant so much more. Yours faithfully has attended stage performances of outstanding artists all over the world - but this offering at Shilpakala Academy was truly spectacular - world class, extraordinary and nothing like I've seen before.

The company kept true to their promise to "turn everyday objects and materials into abstract forms".

Paper cartons were instantly and ingenuously shaped into chairs through beautifully executed fluid movements making each object come to life, and other pieces of furniture to animate emotions and movements in wordless dialogue. A ring-coiled paper tube (normally applied for industrial use to convey gas) was choreographed to make a jumbo worm that playfully humoured the audience with his big pink plastic ball. A hulking elephantine twenty feet flexible spheroid was transformed depicting human emotions on its face.

An outsized shaped mouth in "Kermit" green and red fabric greedily devoured a pink plastic live, which it spat out soon after.

Huge plastic humanoid men and women, and animals, cleverly paraded eccentricity, affection, love, hate and a slew of emotions, cutting through linguistic and cultural boundaries, to the glee of the audience.

Long layers of laid down sticks were converted to chairs and tables and into human forms through sheer ingenuity and confirming the eminence of the troupe's artistic excellence.

That ardour and despair, joy and melancholy could be unmasked by two persons using just ordinary pink and blue toilet paper, and white masking tape as facial and body props, was brilliant.

The show was a geometrical feast, in which the energetic company created shapes and forms through props, costumes and expressive masks, for the conveyance of their stories. Photos: Mumit M.

In the end, two of the master artists with furious speed, sculpted dozens of animals and birds on their putty faces personifying happiness, ridicule, laughter and then one threatening to prey on another etc. An extraordinary piece of art !

In addition to the art, all the episodes were imaginative, intelligently delivering emotions with underlying social messages presently affecting our planet.

The remarkable artistes of the Swiss troupe. Photo: Mumit M.

The show was a geometrical feast, in which the energetic company created shapes and forms through props, costumes and expressive masks, for the conveyance of their stories. The actors were nearly invisible, but the imagery they were able to create and present through their props, was spectacular and revolutionary and the stories and episodes told filled with humour and imagination. It would be difficult not to be touched by the powerful happy, sad, elation and despair affected through the deep emotions told by one story after another.

The company spokesperson mentioned that she found the audience tense. This perhaps because it was the first time that viewers had witnessed such a craft. And also because of the intense emotions that the show was able to generate and softly convey. The energy required for this performance had to come from young actors, but when taking bows, the audience were struck at the age of the artists, the senior-most being 66 years ! The troupe have been honing their skills for 33 years manifest from this truly extraordinary performance. The genius of the performers - through the use of technical skills and pyrotechnics - lights, costumes, dance etc., and to a great extent the assists and backstage persons made this a magical show.

The postcard also says that 3X11 is retrospective of the company's greatest and most iconic works. We were the fortunate beneficiaries of this fantastic event.

(Live videos of Mummenschanz's performance can be viewed on their website www.mummenschanz.ch.)



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