A steady flow of laughter with periodic outbursts by a large audience of excited children filled Jorgensen Friday night as a Swiss theatrical troupe, Mummenshanz, performed a series of silent skits that featured a cast of whimsical characters and creative use of simple materials, lighting and motion.
The performance came 27 years after the company last performed at the University of Connecticut. The troupe has performed on Broadway for three years and toured sixty countries on five continents since its conception in 1972, according to a press release by the Jorgensen Center for Performing Arts.
Parents and siblings accompanied students at the show for a night out with the family. William Tait, a second semester chemical engineering major, said he enjoyed the show despite his mothers joking remark that she dragged him there.
“I did theater in high school and we considered dead silence on stage as a huge faux pas,” Tait said. “It was really interesting to see a whole show in silence. I still find it super enjoyable.”
Although the show was silent, the audience was not. Captivated by magical characters and their whimsy, laughter erupted regularly as a struggling brown blob attempted to ease its way onto a stage or as two mischievous actors with masks of clay sculpted their faces into various animals.
Kes Federowicz, a junior French and education major, and her mother said that while they were unsure of what the show would be like, they ended up enjoying it nonetheless. Frederowicz said her favorite skit was of the actors with clay masks.
“The creativity of it was impressive,” Federowicz said. “If you think about how much time they have to put into practicing that, it’s pretty amazing what they could do.”
Like Tait, Frederowicz came to appreciate that the show was silent.
“I also really liked the silent aspect of it too,” Frederowicz said. “Because of how much you can convey without having to use sound."
The show included interactive components as well. A giant playful slinky tossed a giant red ball with the audience and an actor with a box head and a roll of yellow tape invited audience members to tape faces onto the box. One skit featured a male and female pair with toilet paper rolls as eyes and mouths. The male, at one point, was left in tears as the toilet paper rolled out from his eyes.
“Using different materials of everyday life, whether a carton, fabric, foam, rubber, balloons or rolls of toilet paper, we wanted to convey vignettes which were poetic and ironic and critical,” the groups co-founder Floriana Frassetto said, according to a press release by Jorgensen. “We wanted to tell stories of change and evolution: stories of the difficulty of communication between man and woman or between two men. Stories about misunderstanding, about love, about hate and about the competition that we all experience in our lives.”
While the show is entertaining, the group said they are not trying to change the world with their act, according to a press release by Jorgensen. Instead, they create spaces where people are transported into the magical and captivating world of mimes and puppeteers.
Diler Haji is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus.