All over McCarter Theatre tonight, little children were giggling and erupting with laughter at the antics of the Mummenschanz troupe. It took me back to 1981, when I brought my middle school daughter and her friends to see these Swiss masquers/mimes, and that performance set them on a path to using fabric to create imaginative dance.
Immediately, right away, the smallest kids “got it” as abstract shapes played a giant game of peekaboo, or sparred, or nuzzled each other. That the troupe performs in silence, improvising their timing to the moment of the mood, seemed to inspire vocal contributions from adults and children alike. With the possible exception of Sweet Honey and the Rock, I have never heard a more responsive McCarter audience. Their laughter bubbled up all over the theater, like a host of sparrows in a tree.
It reminded me once again of how Jesus was quoted (Matthew 18:3) as saying that — to enter the kingdom of heaven, you have to become like a little child. These children were so privileged to have their imaginations set on fire, and it was my privilege to be in the audience to hear them.