Mummenschanz is a Swiss mask theater troupe who perform in a surreal mask- and prop-oriented style. Founded in 1972 by Bernie Schürch, Andres Bossard (August 9, 1944 - March 25, 1992), and the Italian-American Floriana Frassetto, the group became popular for its play with bizarre masks and forms, light and shadow, and their subtle choreography.
The name Mummenschanz is German for "mummery," or a play involving mummers. Mummer is an Early Modern English term for a mime artist. (See Mummers Play: Etymology and early precedents.)
After studies (with Jacques Lecoq in Paris and Roy Bosier in Rome) and a three-year period of experimentation, the Mummenschanz Mask Theater was founded in 1972. In 1973, Mummenschanz toured the USA, Canada, and South America, and later enjoyed a 1326-performance, three-year run on Broadway (1977–80). In 1986, they performed their The New Show at the Helen Hayes Theatre in New York. During this time they were spoofed on Late Night with David Letterman by Chris Elliot.
They are known for having appeared as special guest stars on the last episode of the first season of The Muppet Show, which taped in November 1976. The troupe won the prestigious Rose d'Or for their TV production La Pomme in 1980. They also appeared on 3-2-1 Contact in the 1980s and Northern Exposure in the 1990s. In 1987, Mummenschanz performed in the award-winning music video for "Devil's Ball," by Double (featuring Herb Alpert on trumpet).
In 1992, Andres Bossard, a founding member of the troupe, died of AIDS at age 47.
Mummenschanz toured with American actor John Charles Murphy for the duration of Parade, their world tour beginning in 1995.
Their newest show is the anniversary programme called 40 years, and presents the highlights of more than four decades of creative endeavors.