Lindsay Kemp and Flowers, Ionesco’s “The Bald Primadonna” and Swiss Mime Pioneers Mummenschanz.

This post is for Liz O’Sullivan. Whilst researching different mime performances of Pierrot I discovered ‘Mummenschanz’ by chance. They are a Swiss Mime troupe founded in 1972. The giant hands remind me of Ionesco’s giant foot that came creashing onto the stage in “The Bald Primadonna”.

LIFE Magazine in 1968 published a photo from Ionesco’s Amedee, “[…]a husband and his wife are dwarfed by the shoes of a growing corpse- usually interpreted as the corpse of the couple’s dying love.”

Lindsay Kemp created his legendary production of Flowers, based on The Jean Genet novel “Our Lady of the Flowers” in 1974.

Lindsay Kemp in Flowers by Richard Haughton

This video by Pepe Alfonso shows one of Lindsay’s famous workshops as well as photos from a performance of Flowers in Valencia in 1980.

“The novel tells the story of Divine, a drag queen who, when the novel opens, has died of tuberculosis and been canonised as a result. The narrator tells us that the stories he is telling are mainly to amuse himself whilst he passes his sentence in prison – and the highly erotic, often explicitly sexual, stories are spun to assist his masturbation. Jean-Paul Sartre called it “the epic of masturbation.

Divine lives in an attic room overlooking Montmartre cemetery, which she shares with various lovers, the most important of whom is a pimp called Darling Daintyfoot. One day Darling brings home a young hoodlum and murderer, dubbed Our Lady of the Flowers. Our Lady is eventually arrested and tried, and executed. Death and ecstasy accompany the acts of every character, as Genet performs a transvaluation of all values, making betrayal the highest moral value, murder an act of virtue and sexual appeal.

Nando Messias as Divine in a Brazilian Production.

Our Lady of the Flowers was written in prison. Largely completed in 1942, the book was first published anonymously by Robert Denoël and Paul Morihien at the end of 1943, though only about 30 copies of the first edition were bound in that year (most began to be bound and sold in August 1944, during the Liberation). The first printing was designed for sale to well-to-do collectors of erotica; it circulated by private sales lists and under the counter. But Genet never intended his work as mere pornography and later excised more graphic passages. In November 1943, he sent a copy of the first printing to Marc Barbezat, publisher of the literary journal L’Arbalete, who published the book in 1944 and again in 1948. Genet revised the novel when it was published by Gallimard in 1951; the Gallimard edition omits some of the more pornographic passages in the novel. Later L’Arbalete editions include a number of smaller revisions.

The novel is dedicated to the convicted and executed murderer Maurice Pilorge.” (Extract from Wikipedia)

“In 2012, it will be forty years since the founding of the legendary MUMMENSCHANZ – an important anniversary which the ensemble will celebrate with its audiences all over the world. The jubilee tour is scheduled to commence in Zurich, Switzerland, at Theater 11 on October 4th, 2011.

The witty ideas of the group, founded in Paris in 1972 by Andres Bossard, Floriana Frassetto and Bernie Schürch, have been carrying away audiences all over the world. So much so that MUMMENSCHANZ have come to mean far more than a name. The work of the group has become a form of art which has put its mark on the Mime-Masque Theater,  and impressed few generations of audiences. Showgoers of all ages and culture who, led into the creative work of MUMMENSCHANZ, witness weired timeless creatures and incredible colourful forms compete to enchant them”.


One Comment so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Bravo ..!wunderbar …!…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: