CENTREFOLD / Refuse collectors: Mime artists recycle old junk

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Indy Lifestyle Online
So you thought the only good things to come out of Switzerland were holey cheese, chocolate and ornithological time-pieces? You can add to that, Mummenschanz, purveyors of giant-sized liquorice allsorts, human Slinkies, walking hoover hoses and dancing electrical plugs that fall in love. After 22 years of touring the world, the Swiss mime company is presenting Parade, a choice selection of their repertoire by way of an informal tribute to their co-founder, Andres Bossard, who died in 1992.

'We felt it was necessary to conclude this episode which has lasted over 20 years,' says founder member Bernie Schurch. 'We have always recycled our work, so we felt good about digging up our evergreens as well as adding some new pages to our picture-book.' Recycling is more than a pragmatic concern for the company, and for years Mummenschanz has been making good use of the detritus of our consumer society - foam rubber, plastics, paper and cardboard. 'We're inclined to grab these things from the garbage and add something poetic,' explains Schurch.

Starting with facial masks, which developed into three-dimensional torso masks and then evolved into abstract shapes ('blobs, worms and tubes,' Schurch calls them), the work is about relationships, whether between people, animals, monsters, plants or amorphous shapes. Beyond that Mummenschanz avoid narrative story lines. Their name comes from mummen meaning 'game' and schanz meaning 'chance' and their aim is to let the audience interpret. 'We only start to draw a line, and then we hand the pen over to the audience. We want them to be able to participate. That means that adults and children, intellectuals as well as dummies, can come and make the stories their own'.

'Parade' at Sadler's Wells, 7.30pm (2.30pm Sat) to 21 May

(Photograph omitted)

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