Ask me how bad-ass Circus Oz is. Go ahead. Ask me.
The answer to that lies at the end of this entry...
Last night was another opportunity to shed the strictures of mundanity, this time in celebration of my friend Kate Magram(founder of Kirkos)'s birthday. Now, Kate is already having a party tonight, at her loft apartment in Williamsburg (the uber-trendy one, not the colonial re-enactment), so last night was kind of a prequel bonus, if you will. She very much wanted the Yurts to accompany her to see what I believe is her favorite circus troupe ever. Sadly, Animal Yurt (Patrick) was already out of NYC for the holy daze, so that left Giggly Yurt and Dour Yurt (Melissa and myself) to attend with Studious Yurt. Yet another venture to get in the way of holiday preparation and paying a scant amount of attention to my acting career. Yet again was I pleased as punch that I made the excursion.
(As another interesting twist in my day yesterday concerning Kate:
Almost a year ago now, as a sort of contemporary coping method, I put up a singles profile on The Onion AV Club. It helped to sort of sort through where I was and where I thought I wanted to head, inter-personally speaking. An unexpected bonus of this is that I now get weekly emails from the site, informing me of ten women who have recently signed up and with whom my stars align, or some such nonsense. These emails contain pictures and excerpts from their profiles, and I can scroll down and compare/contrast physical attraction with intellectual attraction [if only insofar as such can be judged by a single photograph and a few lines of personal description]. I enjoy it. It's like flirting, but without the potential for emotional scarring. Well, just guess who showed up in my inbox yesterday? I suppose I owe a little something to the Gods of Romantic Comedy Cliches for my earlier jabs at them.:and now, back to our original entry, already in progress.)
...so I says to him, I says, "Napoleon, I understand how much you enjoy the pillaging and all, but shouldn't someone of your stature set his sights a little higher? You know, achieve something historically significant?" Well. You know how the rest turned out, I'm sure.
But where was I?
OH YES. The land of Oz. Circus Oz originates in Australia, has a company of performers from all over the world, and they are just as talented and trained as any Cirque du Soleil chumps. (It's really not fair to compare the two; they have utterly separate objectives and aesthetics. But they both represent nuevo circus in the public eye, sew...) Oz : Soleil :: Nirvana : My Chemical Romance. (Hey: I like MCR, okay? It's just that for my money Nirvana says more with less, and you don't end up feeling like, well, a chump for rocking out to them.)
The real brilliance of the show I saw, "Laughing at Gravity," was an act at the end of the first Act. It wasn't all that skill-heavy, and was predominantly very clownish. It involved most all of the performers participating in a small orchestra, with the actual musical director dressed up in clown and conducting them. It combined a wonderful assortment of classical excerpts (that 2001 song, Flight of the Bumblebee, Flight of the Valkyrie, etc.) with the action onstage. The unity between the action and the particular song (and, indeed, the style in which that song was played) was impressive. Clearly the musical director had put in just as much work as an acrobat training for a difficult maneuver. What really grabbed me, though, was one of the final moments. There was an upright bass onstage, and the conductor and it were hooked into a flying harness and lifted into the air, whereupon he pretended to play the instrument. (Heaven help me, but I can't be sure of the song...possibly Flight of the Valkyrie.) This was well and good, and the rig spun them like a pendulum around the stage, maybe twenty feet up. Then, however, he lost his hold on the instrument, and they separated, still circling. He spots it behind him, and begins running (still in the air, mind you) and it is exactly as though the bass is chasing him. Then he notices he's still holding the bow, turns to face his tormentor, and begins to sword-fight with it.
It was brilliant. Well, I'm a sucker for the transmogrification of props, but I'd still bet others less-inclined toward such things would still find it brilliant. (For another poignant example of the human characteristics of an upright bass, catch a production of the formerly-Broadway-based revue, Swing.) There's something about the surreal, when it's at least somewhat rooted in the "mundane" that delights as few other things can. I consider Magritte a wonderful example of this. Though in that context, I suppose I must acknowledge that the surreal, no matter how based in the mundane (and perhaps as a result of which), can also create a feeling of dread like few other things can. In that sense, my mind springs to Japanese horror films. These are uniquely horrifying (to jaded Westerners, at any rate) because not only is something threatening happening, it's happening in a way that can not make sense. Someone appearing out of nowhere, dripping wet when it isn't raining, or a hand appearing from out a potted plant. Put that way, I wonder if the results of delight and dread aren't just matters of context.
So I've figured a little something out about why I enjoy circus, seeing it and performing it. It gives me access to the places I'm afraid to go, and the possibility of little victories in that arena.
From Circus Oz's program:
"When we perform, we show ourselves, our mob, our place, our culture, the inherent danger of living, the thrill of surviving, and YOUR ability to laugh in the face of adversity, chaos, crisis and gravity."