(NZZ am Sonntag, 2005)


The Mass & Fieber Story

Wilde Detektive F:Chr.Altorfer

was conceived as a label for multimedia events by Niklaus Helbling, Martin Gantenbein and Walter Stulzer sometime in the Nineties before turning to theatrical work in 1998. Joining forces with friends and artists from the areas of music, dance, theatre and literature, the collective of thirty-somethings immediately had a smash hit with their first theatre production BAMBIFIKATION, with awards from the Impulse Festival and the Bodensee Festival. In the nine years since, MASS & FIEBER has produced eight plays, various performances pieces, two radio plays and several musical evenings, and has been called „cult", a „theatre wonder" and „Switzerland's most intelligent theatre collective" by the press. Plays and performances have been staged in theatres, music clubs, an empty pig pen, on meadows, open air festival areas, and, for the Swiss National Exhibition, on a large party boat. With the exception of several commission pieces, plays and performances are generally produced by MASS & FIEBER and abetted by the welcome sponsoring from national, state and private institutions. The plays have toured extensively in Switzerland, Germany, Austria and, on one occasion, Portugal. In 2011, MASS & FIEBER OST, the German subsidary of MASS & FIEBER was founded in Hamburg. Its first show, FALL OUT GIRL, which won the Thüringen Theatre Prize and the Audience Prize at the Avant Art Festival in Weimar. In 2012, following a preparation of three years, MASS & FIEBER joined forces with the theatre collective DON QUIXOTE from Tehran to produce the performance TELL/ZAHHAK, an exchange of myths, for the 500 Jahre Tellspiele celebration in Altdorf. The show then went on to play in Tehran, making Iran the furthest (and foreignest) country in our array of international performance spaces. In 2012, MASS & FIEBER OST recieved funding for a two-year cooperation with the Theaterhaus Jena from the Doppelpass Fonds of the Kulturstiftung des Bundes, resulting in a sequalized variety project with two major productions, the site specific "dime museum" BLACK FACE: DIE VILLA, and the variety show on stage DER SCHWARZE KOMET.
LAST FEATS: In 2015, we produced the site-specific STURM IN PATUMBAH with the Heimatschutzzentrum in the Villa Patumbah for Festspiele Zürich with 13 very fine shows. Lucky number, 13.

Backroom F:Michel Gilgen

On the job: THE TEAM

The formative team in MASS & FIEBER projects consists in director and author Niklaus Helbling who in the last years has directed plays at the Burg Theater in Vienna, the Schauspielhaus Zürich and city theatres from Hamburg and Bochum to Frankfurt and Dresden. At the moment, he is also Hausregisseur at Staatstheater Mainz. Co-founder, composer and musician Martin Gantenbein works in theatre, radio and teaches at the Actor’s School Zürich and was a defining musical force in all MASS & FIEBER projects, as well as production manager up until 2012. As of 2013, long-time assistant and enormously cool project coordinator Katharina Wiss has taken over as production manager of MASS & FIEBER.  Set designer Dirk Thiele was included in a list of the 50 most important set designers in Germany by the Goethe Institute and worked continuously with Helbling up until 2012, when new projects beckoned. For strange and fascinating video work, Elke Auer has been a part of the core team since 2008, working as a combination of video and set designer for all shows of the MASS & FIEBER franchise MASS & FIEBER OST. The versatile singer/songwriter and composer Markus Schönholzer is a mainstay in MASS & FIEBERs songwriting as well as on stage and an acclaimed composer of musicals and music shows in Germany and Switzerland. For MASS & FIEBER OST, we rely on Johannes Geisser, Michael Semper and Felix Huber for fantastic music and compositions, with Johannes doubling as an intriguing actor. Actress Fabienne Hadorn is the formative acting presence in MASS & FIEBER, while producing her own plays with the group Kolypan. MASS & FIEBER OST builds heavily on the enormous talent of newcomer Antonia Labs (now in the ensemble of Staatstheater Mainz) as well as the comedic genius of Christian Bayer. MASS & FIEBER choreographer (until 2008) Salome Schneebeli has worked internationally as a dancer and choreographer and is the head of the dance company Schneebeli. MASS & FIEBER OST, meanwhile, profits from the inspired choreographic input of Maria Walser (with MASS & FIEBER standing in line for her contributions as well). Judith Steinmann,  can be relied on for the defining twists in MASS & FIEBER'S costume design and is much in demand for films and state theatre productions in Switzerland, Vienna and Germany. Coming originally from outside the theatre, Brigitte Helbling is a writer based in Hamburg who leaves civilian life behind her when MASS & FIEBER beckons, which is actually almost all-year-round. Whatever happened to "civilian life"? Her text collaborations with Niklaus Helbling include the exclusive right to most songtexts and to many spur-of-the-moment fabrications which tend to end up in the beautiful graphic material and programme books Thomas Rhyner insists on assembling inbetween stints of jetting around the world as art director and catalogue designer for international artists and art shows. Last, but not least, we point to dramaturgue Jonas Zipf who made possible and enjoyable the first three productions of the German MASS & FIEBER OST and will be joining us as a dramaturgical consultant for a production combining the best forces of MASS & FIEBER and MASS & FIEBER OST (and a couple very fine Iranians) in 2016/2017.

MASS & FIEBER visions and projects have been implemented with a large variety of hugely talented, very beautiful and musically gifted actors and actresses (see "menschen"). Roles are usually written with certain performers in mind. These change from project to project. Backstage, we rely on a handful of proven and wonderfully self-denying persons: Björn Salzer handles our lighting design with a rare sensitivity, which also can be heard in the sound design of newer MASS & FIEBER productions by Mike Hasler. On tour with MASS & FIEBER and during project development, technical manager Peter Affentranger provides reliable and creatively stabilizing support in all things concerning set designs. MASS & FIEBER OST, meanwhile, trusts completely in manager Manuela Wießner showing great deftness in juggling small finances with large wishes (from the production), while Suse Berthold as assistant to the director has also done fantastic work as tour manager.