Wednesday, November 10, 2010
PBS Returns to Circus Tonight: Will Binder Blow His Top Again? Can Lubin Control His Ego? Will the Bomb Kid Return? & How Will Steve Smith Cope?
Are you geared up for tonight's hours 2 and 3 of the 6-hour Big Apple Circus documentary, Circus, on PBS? I am for sure. Can't wait.
Last week's first two hours were sufficiently entertaining, mainly because the cameras rolled while familiar BAC figures revealed very-human personality traits I'd not known about. We got to see founder Paul Binder in anger meltdown. We watched Barry Lubin pushing around new clown Glen Heroy, trying to lock him into strait jacket direction. Look over there. Right hand move this way. Now turn. Pause. Look up! No, not right. Do it again!
And, in dubious retrospect, I asked myself: Hmmmm, yes, hmmmm. Let's see. Director Steve Smith ran the Ringling Clown College for ten years; in fact, he was a Ringling joey for six seasons, and on this show, he was, of record, the official "director." Of record, Lubin was a "production consultant." (says so in my copy of that year's program magazine), not the "Director of Clowning" for BAC that his Wikipedia profile claims him to be.
So I'll be watching to to see who directs Heroy the most, Smith or Lubin.
We got a prop kid getting tossed behind bars for allegedly wondering on his PC how one could plant a bomb under the big top. I saw somebody near the end of the program who looked like him, leading me to wonder if he's back.
Lots of tense plot threads that could explode into high drama. I'm taken by the premise, in which it appears the producers were given fine and full access to freely walk the lot and record whatever they found.
Last week I wondered if the unbecoming hissy fit thrown by Mr. Binder might have been staged for theatrical effect. Evidently not, comments posted here state clearly (as did a comment posted last year), that this is in fact the real Paul Binder. (For the record, Mr. Binder graciously granted me a long telephone interview five years ago; not once did this side of his personality surface.)
I'm not any where near as surprised with the Barry Lubin I am seeing for the first time. I've always had the impression that he lusted after as much power as he could grab. Among the perks he has extracted from management, getting long periods away while an understudy played his "Grandma" character, unheard of, to my knowledge, in big top history.
Binder's obvious fear of a performer so much as stubbing a toe has only added to my suspicions that he is one very cautious producer, perhaps too much so.
And then there's new artistic director G. Dufresnoy (I have HAD IT trying to spell this man's first name, and my exasperated spell checker is filing for divorce). In my first glimpses of G.D., I enjoyed yet another surprise and a favorable one. Mr. D. said almost nothing last week, but his few words struck me as strong and authoritative, and in his fleeting persona I could see an impresario in the making. I noticed him sitting a few rows above Binder & Christensen -- power play? I'm hoping to see more of him in action tomorrow night. Whether he will endure in his new post is far from a settled matter; Early luke warm reactions to his first fully controlled opus, Dance On!, do not bode so well. The show on TV is getting immense amounts of media attention, far more than it's getting for its new opus in Gotham.
So here they come -- explosive outgoing founder-artistic director. Clown Grandma who seems hungry for greater power and recognition. Bomb kid possibly just misunderstood. And the endearing director of record brimming with enthusiasm in the face of it all. I will be studying Steve Smith's subtle facial expressions, looking for deliciously telling hints he may be telegraphing our way. Oh, the fun of it all.
Big Apple Circus, bring it on!