Summer 2010 – A Series of Moments…

“Spectacles of Awe…”

Another fun moment this summer was seeing “Kooza” by the Cirque de Soleil. Having met clown, Ron Campbell on twitter, and then offline in L.A. last year, I was excited to see him performing live in the big tent in Vancouver.

Cirque de Soleil's big tent

If any of you have seen Cirque de Soleil, you understand that you need to buckle up and get ready for a big ride, and Kooza didn’t let us down!

Excited to see Kooza!

As we entered the space, I spotted Ron as the King of Clowns interacting with the audience along with his sidekicks. I especially enjoyed the threesome as they were very bouffon like and audience members were treated to some “special” attention. Their presence came and went throughout the show, giving physical performers time to change their costumes and prepare for the next spectacle, or to just give us a break to breathe again.

Yes…we spent a lot of time holding our breaths as the physical performers took their lives into their hands with height, spinning cages, wobbly chairs, and thin wires. The whole show was a smorgasbord of pliable bodies folding in unexpected shapes, hoola-hooping beyond imagination, leaping, flipping, climbing, balancing, stacking, dancing, cycling, and impressing us the audience who, by contrast, were frozen immobile in our seats.

All acts were supported sensitively by beautiful live music made up of two voluptuous voices, and an orchestra of talented musicians.

Afterward, we were fortunate to go behind the scenes, meet a few of the performers, view some of the specially constructed equipment (done by the performers), and hear some stories. (thank you Ron!)

Behind the scenes at Kooza

Cirque de Soleil has managed to harness an incredible amount of talent from the performers and creators, to all the behind the scene professionals (riggers, stage designers, costumers, lighting designers) into a spectacular ensemble that takes you on a journey of fantasy and awe.

A true entertainment escape! Have you ever experienced it?

Stay tuned for a few more summer vignettes….

(oh.. and here is a Cirque video, by Chris Wheeler, we happened to pop into that night!)

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The 2009 World Theatre Day International Message by Augusto Boal

All human societies are “spectacular*” in their daily life and produce “spectacles” at special moments. They are “spectacular” as a form of social organization and produce “spectacles” like the one you have come to see.

Even if one is unaware of it, human relationships are structured in a theatrical way. The use of space, body language, choice of words and voice modulation, the confrontation of ideas and passions, everything that we demonstrate on the stage, we live in our lives. We are theatre!

Weddings and funerals are “spectacles”, but so, also, are daily rituals so familiar that we are not conscious of this. Occasions of pomp and circumstance, but also the morning coffee, the exchanged good-mornings, timid love and storms of passion, a senate session or a diplomatic meeting–all is theatre.

One of the main functions of our art is to make people sensitive to the “spectacles” of daily life in which the actors are their own spectators, performances in which the stage and the stalls coincide. We are all artists. By doing theatre, we learn to see what is obvious but what we usually can’t see because we are only used to looking at it. What is familiar to us becomes unseen: doing theatre throws light on the stage of daily life.

Last September, we were surprised by a theatrical revelation: we, who thought that we were living in a safe world, despite wars, genocide, slaughter and torture which certainly exist, but far from us in remote and wild places. We, who were living in security with our money invested in some respectable bank or in some honest trader’s hands in the stock exchange were told that this money did not exist, that it was virtual, a fictitious invention by some economists who were not fictitious at all and neither reliable nor respectable. Everything was just bad theatre, a dark plot in which a few people won a lot and many people lost all. Some politicians from rich countries held secret meetings in which they found some magic solutions. And we, the victims of their decisions, have remained spectators in the last row of the balcony.  Twenty years ago, I staged Racine’s Phèdre in Rio de Janeiro. The stage setting was poor: cow skins on the ground, bamboos around. Before each presentation, I used to say to my actors: “The fiction we created day by day is over. When you cross those bamboos, none of you will have the right to lie. Theatre is the Hidden Truth.”When we look beyond appearances, we see oppressors and oppressed people, in all societies, ethnic groups, genders, social classes and casts; we see an unfair and cruel world. We have to create another world because we know it is possible. But it is up to us to build this other world with our hands and by acting on the stage and in our own life.Participate in the “spectacle” which is about to begin and once you are back home, with your friends act your own plays and look at what you were never able to see: that which is obvious. Theatre is not just an event; it is a way of life!We are all actors: being a citizen is not living in society, it is changing it.

Augusto Boal