I am waiting for Saturday morning, November 8, at 9:30, when I will be inside a movie house in the Bay Area watching a live performance of the Big Apple Circus, from Lincoln Center in New York.
I can’t think of a precedent for this: A complete performance from start to finish, in real time.
We talk about watching a circus in person as being by far the best way to see it. And, indeed, it is. But what we are talking about is the very unpredictable nature of circus art itself, such that, sitting there in our seats, we know that at any moment danger or worse could visit the big top.
A missed triple. A missed connection. A wild animal going wild on its trainer. Worse yet, getting lose and running away.
Do you ever go to a play, a musical, a ballet, the opera, or a pop concert wondering who that day might stumble and fall, get hurt, or face the final curtain? Do you ever fear for somebody's’ life watching great ballet dancers soaring over a stage? I do not.
And another thing: The wow factor. At a circus, we root for the juggler to keep all of the hoops and clubs in motion, the flyer to avoid the net. Do you root for actors or singers in a like manner?
At a circus, we know of the darker potential realities that lurk in the shadows. And so, watching circus performers prove their skills in the living present is what gives a circus performance a heightened power, each of the tricks the thrill of achievement before our eyes. No second takes under the big top. No editing before or after the act. There it is, in the beauty of indisputable raw truth.
When Big Apple Circus, Hats off to them! -- hits the screens come November 8, another first for me: Two Big Apple shows in the same year!
Who could have ever guessed that such a day would come?
The crowds, will they come? Have no idea. I hope they do. All of us who do not live in Big Apple’s limited touring range may be able to “go to” this wonderful circus every year.
Now, that’s revolutionary. And to think, Paul Binder's troupe finally did make it out to the West Coast.