by Drew Martin
As an adult there are things you recall about your childhood that upon revisiting at a later age confirm your life-long remembrances but make a little more sense with your personal experiences. I often think about the other-worldly performances of Mummenschanz so I recently checked out a disc from my local library of the first season of The Muppet Show in 1976 because I noticed that one of the episodes featured Mummenschanz. I watched that show when I was seven years old, and seeing their performance forty years later still weirdly disturbed me but knowing now that they are a Swiss group helped me rethink their art form. Not only because they have a European sensibility, which favors mimes, but because Switzerland is the birthplace of Dada art.
The name Mummenschanz is a German concoction for mummery, a play involving mummers - an Early Modern English term for a mime artist. The group formed in Altstätten, Switzerland in 1972. The 1976 Muppets performance opened them up to a wider American audience and in the following year, they started a three-year gig on Broadway.