Thursday, March 05, 2015

MIDWAY FLASH ... MIDWAY FLASH ... Goodbye, Ringling Elephants ... Circus to Retire Pachyderms in 2018

This just in from CBS.  Circus spokesman Stephen Payne telling CBS news that the Feld Family has decided to end the elephant acts.

Payne revealed that the decision has been in the making for some time.

Growing public pressure was cited as a primary reason.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday Slide Bys: Don’t Slip Over a Peanut, Inside May be a Fortune too Good to Smash

Dum De Dum Dum... First Draft Reckless ... 

LET'S SEE, WHAT'S HERE, or out there, or say, simmering on the Mother Board of my mind.  A tad teased, I am, by two recent Circus Report reviews, one, by John Polacsek,  of the Shrine Flint program stubbornly staged within three real rings, and actually, more than once, filling those rings with three separate acts!  Another moment, 10 gals in the air on webs (Okay to use the words “gals”?)  The 3-ring option I am still a fan of ...  Then there's a very different circus, called Cirque Italia, this one without animals, and this one with a ring that rises way up to reveal, still down below, a circular pool of water. Show bills itself “World’s First Water Circus” (okay, we’ll skip what the Russians once did with water). Review is by Billy Earl ... In this sprawling circus-can-be-anything universe in which we now live, you’ve got choices, you do! — and sometimes, a different choice might be worth trying....

DE DUM DUM ... Okay, so I got something out here in a jiffy.  Hope you are still connected halfway myway — yeah, your damn smartie phone won’t leave you alone. Know why? Because you won’t let it leave you alone.  More on this thread up ahead, maybe ...

PONDERING A MOUNTING MYSTERY:  Petite Chinese acrobat named Wei Cao , reported missing  from the Ringling show in Atlanta since Monday, still apparently missing.  I'm  hopping she is okay, wherever she is ... Did you know that The Sound of Music is aiming for another  Broadway revival, due to open days.  Okay, now you know.  Amazing that the last of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals turned out to be by far their most commercially successful show.  And it still sounds great ...

DOWN HERE, yeah, I know, not much to thrill you up there?   Well, even Chuck Burnes, in Circus Report may not thrill those freak show addicts, for, thank the Gods of Victorian Taste, Chuck came on this week without one creepy photo.    Thanks, chuck!

I CAN DO BETTER than that.  Let me scrap through some papers nearby, back in a moment: Juggling world records, from Wiki, only thing I found still waiting to be talked up --- But then, my ego getting smashed down again sounded better.  It happened from a hate mail attack, while back, by some big A (Anonymous),  hating what I wrote about Anthony Gatto, which fairy — and then excitingly — stunned me.  I have raved over and over again about my encounter with the extraordinary juggler, me in the seats of Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza, he in the ring, discovering him on my very own.  You can put out a post 95% positive, but curse that 5% you dared say.  Say ONE BAD THING about a circus show, a performer, dead or alive, and you are a vicious stupid ill-informed idiot — besides which, you don’t know what you the h##!!!xxx!!L  you are talking about!

GATTO CORRECTED:  One thing Mr. Anonymous Fuming pointed out, for which I stand properly scolded, is that Gatto did appear with a number of European shows.  I’ll take Big A’s word for it, too lazy at the moment to dig deeper.

WE HAVE GONE, yes, practically no where, and wasn’t it a boring blast?   HELLO!  Do you HEAR ME?  Will you please put down your damn smartie phone for one moment?

I CAN'T WAIT to be sitting in a restaurant with some fiends, only, wanting to say something to the person next to me, finding he or she is on the phone. So, I will CALL he or she on my cell phone, and that way, right there next to each other, we can have a real cell phone conversation.  What a pathetic race of electronically-enclaved morons we are tuning ourselves into.

IT'S BEEN MY pleasure pretending to know what I’m talking about.  But, hey, If I think of anything better than this during the day, I’ll come back here and let you know.

A deal?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

UK Big Tops Drawing Psychiatric Attention ... US Circus Scene Under Seige from Dark Broadway Treatments: "Sideshow" a Flop, "Water" on the Way ... (It's Okay to Laugh)

 
Randomly round the hippodrome track, off a stack of papers, first on top down to the bottom ... dot ... dot ...dot. Brace yourself for more obtuse studies, Creepy clown crackdowns, and music theatre depictions of the dark side. 

Here comes Brit barker, Douglas McPherson, of London Town, for the defense of “Circus,” and when I henceforth say circus, take that to mean “traditional circus.”  Except I refuse to say “traditional.”  Do you say “traditional Broadway?”   “traditional cinema/”?   I say CIRCUS, thank you, and henceforth it’s up to you to know what I mean. ... Author and blogger McPherson (Circus Mania) from across the Big Pond, ruing yet more academic studies raining down like vice squads onto hapless circus lots.  Well funded — need a job Over There? — Circus Research Network (NCR) hiring  people to  “assess the positive social and psychological benefits on children from immigrant families of engaging in 6 months of circus skills training.”   ...  Another brainy study involves “applying a virtue ethics to the traditional circus community.”  Are you still with me, dot dot not?

Writes our London scribe,  “I think my favorite is the guy who got public funding to carry out a ‘community impact evaluation on a publicly funded community circus skills group’”  The finding may depress your self-esteem levels:  “Not doing circus skills training makes people less happy than doing it.”   Gosh, how emotionally stunted that makes me feel, if only I could have spent my formative years in the mud learning how to peddle peanuts  ....


What next: Scotland Yard quarantines all circus clowns, pending mandatory psychological testing?

 .

And here comes -- no, there goes Sideshow,  the musical about Siamese twins which flopped again in revival drive to take the town on its return – with revisions.  Both runs lasted a few short months.  Chuck Burnes, who fancies geeky gory oddities back of bizarre banner lines (I cringe, in full wimp mode, over the pictures he posts in his Circus Report columns), was high on  Sideshow.  Sorry, Chuck  Seems ticket buys not willing pay a hundred bucks to watch so difficult a situation in song and dance.  “Younger than Springtime, Are Yous”?  "Tea for Three"?  Never made sense to me, though the score's lyrics (I said lyrics, not music) are richly in sync with the material.  But ... once a flop, always? ... Think Spider Man...


And who is that kid on parade toting a bucket full of water?  Why, oh yes!  He just got cast in another circus-themed  Broadway bound vehicle —  Water for Elephants!  Now, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber (just kidding), this dark Gothic story might make it.   Can you hardly wait for yet another anti-circus assault?  How will they ever get an elephant onto the stage?

Books on parade! ...  The Greatest Shows on Earth, by Linda Simon, drawing raves from Brit reviewers, and Ernest Albrecht's From Barnum & Bailey to Feld, copies of both en route to local libraries, promise a relief from a recent spate of academically wrought titles, gender-studies, animal abuse, et all, strewn through sordid circus history.  I'm looking forward to taking a peak into each.   My only regret is that I had thought Albrecht was at work on a bio of Irvin Feld. Now, that might have been a study in megalomania fit for a proper Circus Research Network analyst.


Accidental journalism: Video-interviewer Lane Talburt — watch out, his camera may be coming after you! – favoring me with a DVD of his and other interviews on Kelly Miller, John Ringling North II top of the list.  Lane rarely asks indelicate questions, such as, well, how many people actually buy tickets to see your show?  But his camera does not hold back, photographing all the empty seats, which drove me to ask the camera's owner – Is what I see and have seen many times before -- few in the seats, an accurate reflection of biz trends over there?  Still no reply.  I might try e-mailing his camera.

Missing the man in the white hat when the crowds don't come:  More reason to wonder about business at Kelly Miller:  During Talburt's chat with a couple of performers (I've misplaced my DVD), we learn how North's positive spirit helps them get through periods of low attendance, and how they miss him when he is away.

Another partial-reporting tease: This from one-time Ringling clown Tim Torkelson, waxing long and thoughtful in Circus Report a while back, having taken grand kids to a big circus with all the staples, says he, but many patrons skipping out during intermission.  One of his suggestions for said show to boost its hold on the audience might be a peanut pitch, which makes me think he went to Ringling. I wish Tim would dare to disclose name of show; I'd like to know to which circus his observations apply  He’s leaving us in the dark to argue in the abstract.   I would e-mail his camera -- if he had one   

Bottom of the stack, that’s all folks!

Rest of what’s left, into the circular file.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Last Week's Great Writer Tease Revealed!

Last Sunday, I posted this, an excerpt from a long-ago book, believing it to be remarkably relevant to today:

 We created the computer, to do our will, but we can not make it do our will now.  It has robbed us of the sense of space and of the sense of touch, it has blurred every human relation and narrowed down love to a carnal act, it has paralyzed our bodies and our wills, and now it compels us to worship it. The computer develops, but not on our lines.  The Computer proceeds  —  but not to our goal.    We only exist as the blood corpuscles that course through its arteries, and if it could work without us, it would let us die.

I substituted the term "The Machine" with "The Computer."

Who wrote it, and when?

E. M. Forster, in 1909, before the time of his great novels, the most famous of which is A Passage to India:

Here is an entry about the work in Wikipedia:

"The Machine Stops" is a science fiction short story (12,300 words) by E. M. Forster. After initial publication in The Oxford and Cambridge Review (November 1909), the story was republished in Forster's The Eternal Moment and Other Stories in 1928. After being voted one of the best novellas up to 1965, it was included that same year in the populist anthology Modern Short Stories.[1] In 1973 it was also included in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two. The story is particularly notable for predicting new technologies such as instant messaging and the Internet. The story is set in a post apocalyptic world where people are living underground because the surface is uninhabitable, and they rely on a giant machine to provide their needs."

I was astonished to discover this from one of my favorite authors.  I've read all five of his major novels, none of which, as I recall, hints at such a talent for science fiction.

The little book in which it appears, The Eternal Moment, was placed in front of my door by the lady across hall, with whom I communicate by passing notes -- easier than having to shout in her ear when we pass each other coming and going and her hearing aid is either not on or not working.  She's funny that way. 

Monday, February 09, 2015

Kept Afloat by Big Top Tricks, 7 Fingers Dabbles Densely in Many Arts -- Patience Here is an Artful Asset




Theatre Review
7 Fingers - Sequence 8
Berkeley, Ca, Feb. 7, 2015

Loaded with many things to do and to prove, from circus acts and dance, to pantomime, chat, satire, hauntingly downbeat stage pictures linked to abstract body movement, and even more —  the Montreal-based and very French Les 7 doigts de la main  delves even deeper into its preoccupation with the human condition. They call this one Sequence 8.   As the company did with one of its first outings,  the easier-to-take Traces, Sequence 8 opens the souls of its performers onto the audience by having them talk to us and to each other.  Sometimes in secretive whispers.  In the shadows.  Our job is to ponder.

Call this eclectic opus a metaphysical variety show.  It is, no, not a circus, even though it, yes, wins us over by essentially being a circus, earning its encores with a few outstanding acts, themselves certainly good enough for a shot at Monte Carlo medals.  They are, nonetheless, deadly determined to reach the theatre crowd.  While Isadora Duncan might approve, not sure that Will Shakespeare would.  They are all about being clever and hip, so hip during the dullest moments as to be as dumbfounding as an art installation in a modern art museum.  This apparently thrills to no end those on the intellectual fringe seeking both a release from and an excuse for patronizing a circus.


They take the stage, as they did with Traces, merging dance and acrobatics into brilliantly complex patterns, this early astonishing assault flowing into one of two most memorable offerings —  Alexandra Royer in a pole vaulting routine that tops anything in this genre that I have ever seen.   At this early point, I thought to myself (prematurely judging as often I try not to do), if only Cirque du Soleil could be like that.

They had barely just begun, keep in mind, and what lay ahead was as tediously pretentious as it was, at redemptive intervals, exhilarating.  The other star act has two fellows — Ugo Dario and Maxim Laurin —  ambling about on a teeterboard, accelerating their amble into a thrilling exhibition of somersaulting thrusts upward, one after the other.  Another Monte Carlo moment, I’d say.   And there is a third turn that captures major attention in the form of juggler Eric Bates manipulating square blocks.  Company ingeniously contributes to his number.

In-between the strongest action drawn from big top dynamics, all of the other stuff, joined without a clear narrative or rhythmic pulse, may try your patience. And instead of an intermission, we are talked to by one of the artists, endeavoring to charm spectators in a yet more intimate manner.   Nouveau audience participation.  Another trying diversion consists of  four people planted downstage facing the audience, each pretending to be standing in front of a mirror while removing their clothes.  Very slow.  What is the point of it – quasi strip tease?   By now, I was wishing, if only 7 Fingers could be more like Cirque du Soleil.

On my way out, facing my honest emotions, I did not feel the same joy that I felt leaving the CDS tent following Kurios.  Or leaving Ringling following Built to Amaze.  I felt a strange sad  existential gloom, and I was surprised, looking at my pre-Apple wrist watch, to see that I had not been in there for over two hours, as it had seemed, but for only 95 minutes.
               
Which makes it not just easier, but more logical to state that this is not a circus.  Indeed, it never really wanted to be one, and never called itself a circus, even though, according to program notes, it's "initial goal was to bring circus to a human scale."  No wonder I feel rather irrelevant writing this review.   

7 Fingers, its theatre-heavy roots in the last and thematically darkest days of San Francisco's New Pickle Circus (Circumstance, Birdhouse Factory), extends a drive, once briefly championed in the Soviet Union during post-revolutionary days, to merge theatre and circus.   Sequence 8 will undoubtedly impress those who long for circus – without circus.  For myself, if I want Becket or Brecht, Pinter or Genet or Gorky, I’ll go see a real play in a real playhouse.

Rating (it’s the show, stupid): 2 stars

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Now Appearing at Theatre YouTube: Mary Martin in South Pacific – YES – Mary Martin! .... 2nd Feature: Kelli O’Hara in the Broadway Revival ... Curtain Up on the Digital Proscenium!



 
Ever wish you could have seen Mary Martin in South Pacific? If you’re willing to be the only person in the theatre, now you can.  But if grainy black and white film leaves you wanting, link in a blink to a front row seat at the glorious Lincoln Center revival of 2008.

And give your regards to YouTube!

Blessed with one of Broadway’s greatest scores ever, and with the courage to explore the perilous intersection of love and racial prejudice, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1949 hit, South Pacific, became the second longest-running Broadway musical at the time (behind only another, longer-running, R&H smash,  Oklahoma), and was awarded a Pulitzer prize for drama.

When it was revived, in 2008, at Lincoln Center, under the direction of Bartlett Sher, I was won over by the production’s shimmering professionalism  — 36 musicians in the pit, expansive sets that seemed to extend clear across the sea.  So thrilling, indeed, that I returned to New York the following year to see the show once again (from, as I would luck out, a superior seat), and liked it even more.

Keep in mind, for the point of this post, that I was watching it from a single fixed position.

Was it really that good?

No musical is perfect, not even South Pacific.  They are best seen in the medium for which they were conceived. On film in 1958, South Pacific fairly sustained its glowing reputation.  On television in 2001, with Glen Close playing (or slaying) the role of Nellie Forbush, it did not.

There is now a third emerging venue for Broadway addicts  — viewing filmed performances of musicals.  You can watch the Live From Lincoln Center film of South Pacific, broadcast on PBS in 2010, all the way through without breaks, on YouTube.   But beware: Multiple camera angles and closeups will be telling you where to look every beat of the way. And you may find yourself gazing up close at something you have long admired, only to discover flaws in the fabric.  Or rather, in this particular fabric.   Here are some of my reactions to the 2008 revival:

Some assets:

* Amdrew Samonsky's Lt. Joseph Cable marks the best acting performance in the show.  Although I miss his predecessor Matthew Morrison's stronger rendition of "Younger than Springtime," Samonsky's uniquely wrought Cable is even more impressive here.

* Loretta’s Ables Sayre’s Bloody Marry also favors a grittier realism, which deepens the tension in her angry confrontation with Cable over his refusal to marry Liat.  Another bravo performance.

* My Girl Back Home: How lucky we are to have this song!  It was dropped out of town from the original New York bound production, reinstated in the 1958 movie, as it is here.  The number's poignant innocence marks the genius of Dick and Oscar in mining lyrical gold from common ordinary moments between common ordinary people.  My brother Dick pointed out to me how Oscar Hammerstein, tellingly, did not write, for Cable to sing,  “I loved her a lot,” but “I liked her a lot.”

 * More realism in the wartime atmosphere and military scenes, credit advanced stage technology.


Some  drawbacks:

* Kelly O’Hara’s Nellie Forbush suffers a little from the SC factor: squeaky clean.   

* Paulo Szot’s Emile DeBeque is just okay. In closeups, Szot looks more like a fine singer dutifully acting than a fine actor having lost himself in the role.  Nor does Szot bring the illusion of advanced age to the role that Ezio Pinza did in the original.


* Between O’Hara and Szot, then, there is little age difference on the surface, thus rendering mute the younger woman-older man theme from the original that strengthened  the show’s social daring-do.  Easy to imagine the producers shunning this issue in order not to alienate all of those young girls out there said to keep Times Square ticket windows humming.
               
* Danny Burstein’s funny-to-fading Luther Billis disappoints:  Burstein starts out on a strong comedic note in “Nothing Like a Dame,” but then proceeds to slowly lose levity, as his persona hardens into the second act, making his drag scene in “Honey Bun” more a drag than a laugh. 

* Tediously long military dialogue: My biggest gripe with Oscar Hammerstein has been the excessive stretches of dialogue that mark his librettos.  Example here, Billis getting reprimanded for his shenanigans at sea.  This labored office encounter could have been dispensed with in less than half the lines.  

        WATCHING MARY MARTIN IN SOUTH PACIFIC

                                   
 

She, too, now lives on in YouTube,  albeit, in a black and white film of the 1951 London production at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, said to have been a virtual duplicate of the Broadway original, but without an audience present.  The show was filmed in 16mm  on Tuesday,  May 6, 1952, by four cameras, one placed in the balcony of the theatre.  The quality of the film is rough, not all scenes ideally -- or even quite fully -- framed.  For music theatre buffs, however, watching this may feel akin to discovering a long-lost and very rare archeological dig.  Writing about it in Playbill, Steven Suskin justly hails  “Mary Martin's legendary performance; not a Hollywood version, reconfigured for the screen, but Mary doing precisely what she did on stage when South Pacific first opened”

Martin proves herself all over again.   Sugar in her heart, yes-maybe, but deep down in them there bones, there is vinegar, too. ( She debuted on Broadway in a racy 1938 Cole Porter Musical, singing “My Heart Belongs to Daddy,” waking up the next morning a star.)  I had never fully realized what a great actor she was, not just a musical theatre superstar, until now.   She IS Nellie Forubsh.  Another revelation is her terrific way with dancing, as full of magical animation as a Disney carton.  A miracle of mirth in motion. Has there ever been anyone like her? Will there ever be again?

Some other impressions.                                     

Balli Ha'i: A song that I have long regarded as lovely if a tad long –  I now regard as phenomenal, thanks to Murel Smith’s powerfully embracing rendition of the number, lifting it, and practically the entire theatre, into a transcendent mystical realm.  Little wonder hers would be the singing voice lip synced by Juanita Hall in the 1958 film.

Major miscasting:  Peter Grant, as Lt. Cable, delivers his songs well, but cuts a remarkably ineffectual figure.  On the upside, Fredd Wayne’s warmly amusing Luther Billis is about as funny as would Phil Silvers have been, had he played the role.

Well paired:  Wilbur Evans merges fine acting with commanding vocals to forge a persuasively earnest DeBeque, making him an ideal match for Martin.

Even Tony and Maria didn't hit the sack this fast, or did they?  The Cable- Liat overnight romance in a dubiously pay-as-you-lay-setting, neither speaking the other's language, continues to strain credibility.  Of course, all is forgiven given the glorious younger-than-springtime that follows, right? 

Prolonged military strategy scenes, especially in Act II, are even more tedious here than those in Bartlett Sher’s Lincoln Center staging, stopping the show dead in its tracks.  But, then again, with no audience in the house, you are at a major disadvantage, it being understood that audience reactions influence our own reactions.  Well, all of us except for maybe John Simon.

All of this having been said, just being able to see Mary Martin in the bloom of this great American musical is a true and lasting treasure. 
                   
When I talked up the Lincoln Center revival with my brother, urging him to consider flying back to New York to see it, I tempered my enthusiasm with this caveat:

“However, I should tell you — it is still South Pacific.”

Well, no, I should have added, “It is still South Pacific –  minus Marty Martin”


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7pzkQr1SO8

1.24.15

Sunday Morning with a Great Writer: He Foresaw a Spirit-Killing Technology

I give you the work of one of the world's greatest novelists.  I am quoting from one of his stories that struck me as remarkably timely  To make your read more challenging, I have only removed a term used then and replaced it with one we use now,  "The Computer."

When, do you think, was this written?  And by whom?   You do not know him for science fiction, which made my discovery of this tale yet more astonishing. 

Here it is:

We created the computer, to do our will, but we can not make it do our will now.  It has robbed us of the sense of space and of the sense of touch, it has blurred every human relation and narrowed down love to a carnal act, it has paralyzed our bodies and our wills, and now it compels us to worship it. The computer develops, but not on our lines.  The Computer proceeds  —  but not to our goal.    We only exist as the blood corpuscles that course through its arteries, and if it could work without us, it would let us die

Come back next week, and you will find out who wrote this.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Kelly Miller Lets a Few Go, Imports New Clowns, Hands Holder Two White Tigers, Ostroff, the Ringmaster's Whistle -- Young Finn's First Impressions of an American Cricus ....


 

Wonder of Wonders!

Back in the House of Ringling, sleuthing through cyber sawdust for clues to the new show out, here is what I and Doc Felix Watson have found in the key of exciting.  All of it contained in a post issued by new clown, apparently a Finn import, Sebastian ie Seppo Tauriainen.  (Notice how John Ringlilng North II has a way of attracting bloggers?)

I deduce the following, but keep in mind, this outfit often takes many weeks to piece itself fully and finally together, That said, here are some of the changes:

*  Missing from the lineup are Raul Oliveras, Armando Loyal, fire-eater Lamount, and clown John Sayre.

*  Three of last year's strongest acts are back:  Abrham Gebre, Nicolas Souren, and Amina & Zaia.

* Rebecca Ostroff, turning in her trapeze for the ringmaster's whistle.

* Ryan Holder getting two white tigers into his act. 

* Juggler Nicolas Sourens' wife, Kimberly, has a pot in the show

* Dogs, ducks, and a llama from Carolyn Rice.

Here is Sebastian's full post in rough on-line to-English translation (no corrections made)

 Clown Sebastian ie Seppo Tauriainen to conquer the new continent, and sent its first report: We started our tour in the United States, the traditional Kelly Miller Circus on 5 February, the Rio Grande Valley area of South Texas. Here, the population seems to speak mostly Spanish, so I took a crash course in the language of the tent boys numbers. The presentation is a couple of hours long and consists of similar numbers, as we have up. The difference may have been the host of a major role in the program and the special intermediate numbers as some kind of nuts sale of the campaign during the presentation. People rush to buy bags of nuts Ring Master hehkuttaessa topic riding arena. In some pähkinäpussilla obviously to win something, but this must be consulted in more detail. Presentation dates back to the air-acrobat Rebecca Ostroff . He was seen in Finland Christmas time, Water for Elephants movie. Rebecca has toured for years with Kelly Miller and now for the first time the role of the Ring Master.

One of the circus of the most popular standard of the performers. Fagolino - CLOWNS Italian clown who visits the same ring three times. Arwen, Kimberly and Emilie - DANCE GROUP Appears in the same ring a few times of the 1920s Charleston style numbers. Fridman - LAUTASNUMERO Peruvian-rounder, who is also working multi-man circus. It has been repairing my home tour. Carolyn & Shirley - DOGS, ducks and llama Many will remember Finlandia several times visited the Pat Harrison and his hot dogs. This number is similar to the cart, but, surprisingly, the dogs were really dressed hodareiksi - yes, the dogs run a riding arena rolls between mustards on the back. This comfortable hassle-free number on the second performer has been the Director of lovely Irish lady Shirley. Sebastian - Ventriloquist Oulu alone speaker in a big country. WEB PRODUCTION This impressive number is the air coming from the Ringling Brothers circus and falls Kelly Miller, a year-round program. In the five air acrobats occurs at the same time in different parts of the indoor arena. This number is for masts tuned to the specific cables, to acrobats have been around the indoor arena. Nicolas Sourens - Juggler Juggler Very good traditional instruments balloons, beam angles and tires. NIC wife will be an excellent partner in issue. Abraham Gebre - jugglers Nigerian artist is now the second year to perform here. He has been seen in the past as close as Sweden Cirkus Olympia and Scott included. His number is very good and speedy. Abraham juggling hats in addition to angled discs on the bounce these balls. The presentation is very action-packed and energetic. Zaya and Mindeh - STRAPS Mongolian couple shows a beautiful air-acrobatic interludes straps. Kimberly Sourens - KEYSTONE jugglers wife mak Here our program: Ryan Holder - Tiger Six magnificent tigers, as well as two white tigers. es an elegant trapeze number of French music. Mike Rice - zebras and camels more exotic animals in the same ring. Number is the number camel surprisingly packed. Probably due to the speed the pace is maintained by the nimble zebras. Tommy Demry - the elephant in the circus staff wondered before training begins, it looks like the number one elephant, when usually they have always been three. However good it looked. Elephant namely dancing instructor with Tommy. And when the going gets wild grab the elephant in Tambourines kärsäänsä and will be accompanied by dance. Quite a peculiar sight. Zaya - contortion Straps issue appeared Zaya makes another artful number.

Sebastian's First Impressions of Kelly Miller Layout, Midway and Personnel
 I've selected some highlights for House of Ringling Fans -- very interesting, how a young European  sees us. 

The circus is beautifully decorated throughout. The cars and wagons sides are made ??of intricate paintings. A number of points found in the circus owner John Ringling North II 's name. His uncle was the famous Ringlin Brothers and their circus with John spent his childhood  ...  Both of these gentlemen (North and Royal) have been very good company and very approachable people ...Technical staff will be in Mexico. The circus 85 people for a bunch of people have their own kitchen trolley Cook House , where we eat. The canteen will be hosted by a very cheerful Jeremiah , who is a great cook and a club officer.

The circus entrance of Midway is filled with a wide range of temptation before the tent at night: face painting, animal horseback riding and photography, souvenir stores, balloons, bouncy castle and Sideshow. Dollar's take a look at monelaista miraculous mm. mummified mermaid, a crocodile head, El Chupacabra, and many other creatures. Generally speaking, these attractions are not alive, but in a display case ground twice something live bugs. This ihmeellisyysmuseon curators are tiger tamer Ryan and mechanic Danny . The circus kiosks are to the local way also very versatile. For sale is a standard candy, jätskien, cotton candy and popcorn, but also corn dogs, Funnel Caces, Sno Corns, Peanuts, Caramel Apples and much more.

The circus in Mexico made.  New tent is about the size of the tent of Circus Finlandia and can house 1,100 spectators. Tent erection and dismantling seems to be going in a different way than I have seen before, and the tent structure is slightly different. The audience can be pitched very quickly. The stands are built on top of the long wagons, which are six in the tent. These wagons are opened hydraulically and grandstand aluminum benches is complete. Fully round shape, this grandstand may not be, but it works really well. Aitio a stadium- Ring Side does not include separate lodges but it is a full circle shape around the fenced perimeter of the riding arena. Tent will be a $ 16 basic access to tickets (adult or child will pay the same price approx. € 14) and the inside is possible to pay a fee of $ three, and thus get for better Ring Side locations. Ticket Cashier given to the people discount coupons for the price of 2 euros off the leaves. These are distributed to all, so the ticket price is actually $ 14, ie approx. 12 euros. Our tour is now writing this lasted for four days, and the back nine successful screen. I'm looking forward to what this country has to offer. There will be such. Amish-filled shows, when the parking area is more carriages than cars. Our tour will last until early November.

2.11.15

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Out of the Classroom and Into the Big Top? A New American Circus Movement Still Fails to Produce. Why It May Never Change.



Once more, savoring the afterglow of another glorious Monte Carlo International Circus Festival (from photos and YouTubes), my heart takes flight, as well, in the emerging power of other such festivals around the globe. And, again, I ponder the idea of the U.S. ever bringing off one itself; I promise not to giggle.

Sorry.

Blame it on American culture.  And why did it take me decades to land upon that two-word conclusion -- American culture?  To the basics, Kids:

Over There, in other less credentialed worlds, they produce the acts.

Over Here, we — mostly in the private sector — produce the shows.  

Over there, they still love animals.  They still love great circus tricks, simple as that.  (American audiences do, too.)

Enter Circus Now


Over here, in public classrooms of tenured theory and private workshops, a new breed of all-human circus arts advocate, largely unknown to the public, works out “issues” on static trapezes, draws paychecks teaching acrobatics as self-esteem therapy.  Lectures against sexism in the ring reaching back to the barbaric days of Barnum and Bailey.  Most of these barely veiled reformers, who call themselves Circus Now, champion in earnest — hear them out  —  a virtual separation from the older order (tricks, animals) to more theatrically expressive modes.  There is only one problem in the equation: so far, they have yet to produce any ring stars of note.

Pretentiously Spreading
.
And what, you may wonder, is Circus Now?  It is a network of academic and trendy experimental  groups, with ties to the American Youth Circus Association, bent on overturning convention. said to be growing in number throughout the U.S. They foster acrobatic and aerial arts in advanced forms drawing significantly from theatre and ballet.  (Animals need not apply).   Among Circus Now’s member affiliates, there is Aerial Yoga San Antonio; Albuquerque Aerial Collective; Girl Circus;  Iluminar Aerial,  above.  No kidding.  Perhaps an artsy collective somewhere here in Oakland, reported periodically to be the driving force behind this New Circus scene, is itself a member, too.

Bogus Big Apple Festival

As defined by the group,  “Circus is a vehicle for beauty, meaning, self-expression, and social commentary.”  Earlier this month under the Big Apple Circus tent in New York, Circus Now hosted the "first ever" American Circus Awards, in concert with Big Apple Circus and the Montreal-based troupe 7 Fingers (the latter with distant roots in San Francisco’s old Pickle Family Circus).

Awards were handed out in three categories: 

 * Evolving Circus Award
*  Elevating Circus Award
* Community Impact Award.

Two of the three honors were bestowed upon two of the three sponsoring organizations, making the event a shameless vanity salute.  Is this the best this country can do?  I would LOVE to see an OPEN annual circus arts competition, somewhere, someplace, somehow.  We are so low on the totem pole of tanbark tournaments, I say, let ANYBODY enter.  (Okay, no more than a thousand hula hoop acts).

Are you still with me?

Getting Back to the Glorious Basics


A few weeks later, leaving New York aside, back on Planet Earth in a place called Monaco, The 39th Monte Carlo International Circus Festival handed out Gold, Silver and Bronze Clowns to ring stars from far and wide who sustain the primal power of big top glories.

Five Somersaults -- Pyongyang to Monaco

So keen is the festival on honoring the most accomplished and compelling ring wizards out there, no matter their origin, that an eleven-member troupe of North Korean flyers took a Gold Clown for, by all accounts, a sensationally inventive display of non-stop gymnastics aloft. As covered in Spectacle on-line, the troupe lands unannounced quads -- and even, in some form, a quintuplet!  Caught on the first try at the second performance, as witnessed by Ernest Albrecht,  writes he, it "brought the house down with a cheering, standing ovation."  Now that, Circus Now, is Circus WOW. 

I say – Bravo to Princess Stephanie, the festival’s shining star, for her great work!  For not just the glamor she brings to the event, but to her fearless embracement of circus art, no matter where it may be found on this war-torn globe.  By advancing the festival that her late father, Prince Rainer, originated, Princess Stephanie is making it, it seems, even a greater force, and more valued an indicator of the state of world circus arts.  It is televised in over 30 European countries. Not in the UK.  Not in the US.  PBS (Pledge Break Society) should be ashamed of itself for not airing a few hours of Monte Carlo Gold.




Some call it “The Circus Oscars.”  To listen to Bello Nock, interviewed during the festival, expressing his great joy over its power to inspire younger generations, is to feel the same depth of gratitude for Princess Stephanie’s wonderful showcase.  Is to feel the excitement of the people inside the tent, packed with pride and a shared joy in serving what Ernest Hemingway called "the ageless delight."


I have a discretely framed question for Circus Now, and for all academics at large: If students at colleges study drama hoping to land on Broadway, or cinema hoping to direct or star in Hollywood films, might it also be fair to expect of your burgeoning classrooms, collectives and workshops ring stars of the highest order?

I’m still waiting, I think.

Next stop on this ramble:  Big Apple Circus’s journey from promising teacher in its own classroom — to a flop at the movie house    What went wrong?

Friday, January 30, 2015

French Circus Festival Loves Animals -- Spreads Medals World Wide -- Germany Tops with Three -- U.S. Lands Two

Here are the results of the 2015 Massy International
 Circus Festival in France

Prize of the President of the Republic
Sokolov Troupe (Russia)  teeterboard

Gold Medals
Duss Family (Germany)   sea lions
Picasso Jr.  (Spain)   juggling
Zhang Fan (China)   slack wire

Silver Medals
Sacha Houcke & Gaby Dew (France)  liberty horses
Josef Richter Troupe  (Hungary)      bareback riders
Jordan McNight (United States)      contortion

Bronze Medals
Adriana Folco (Italy)      elephants
Duo Vanegas (Colombia)   wheel of death
Carmen Zander  (Germany )             tigers
Olimpo's Brothers  (Brazil)       hand to hand

Jury Special Award
Bello Nock (United States)     clown

Rosgoscirk Prize
Kai Cao (China)       rebound juggler

City of Massy Prize
Pavel Vyakin (Russia)  bears

Brittany Circus Prize
Celine Moreno (France)  host / presenter

Strass 2000 Prize
Adriana Folco (Italy)  elephants

French Circus Club Prize
Carmen Zander (Germany)   tigers