Thursday, 25 March 2010

Changing sides or A Midsummer Night's Dream

A recent sms from my mother: “I fell in love with elephants”. No, she hasn’t moved to Africa; my mother has been visiting St.Peters- burg in February. The only elephants to be found at this time of the year in St.Petersburg (or any other time of the year in St.Petersburg) were in a circus…

Now, wait a minute, am I missing something here? My mom, who since I can remember (and that would be for about 30 years this time) was declaring her disdain for circus and was vigorously cultivating a matching contempt in her two daughters, was IN LOVE with it? Here is a heart break for you. Is there anything for me left to believe in? Anything at all? It was my third favorite subject (after Casinos and ZOOs) to pour my scorn on (not that I do it often or excessively). I feel like I lost the best comrade, the ideological anti-circus leader. Disoriented and determinated to prove her wrong I am going undercover.

Here I am, sitting in S12 train from Brugg to Winterthur on a sunny Thursday morning, reading the new brilliant novel by Nick Hornby “Juliet, Naked”, and trying to reason what is wrong with the circus:

1. Clowns. They are scary. Not funny. Fake. (The only clown I ever liked was on a photo – it was the best art item of an exposition I visited few years back – he looked frustrated and has been curled up in a bath tub with a bottle of wine).

2. Animals. Don’t, oh, don’t tell me they prefer jiggling balls and dancing, to running around the savannah and copulating happily. Every time I hear about accidents involving a trainer I feel a little pang of satisfaction (scratch out the lethal cases, I am not that vicious). But still, remember the recent tragedy when the killer whale dragged his 40 year old woman trainer under water and she died? … Hello? It’s a KILLER whale, remember? Never underestimate the nature.

3. Acrobats. I mean, have you seen those muscles? With those physiques they should join a fire brigade or REGA, or something, I mean, what a waste. The best counterargument I got to this one was: “You are making art. There is no use to it either”. Righty.

Arriving to Rikon, ZH where Circolino Pipistrello is stationed. For a couple of hours I am “a representative of the Russian National Circus”, as Marc Palino Brunner, the director of the upcoming new production “EIN SOMMERNACHTSTRAUM”, jokingly introduced me to the troupe. I am watching, absorbing, and trying not to be judgmental (which isn’t even an issue by the way). No clowns with orange wigs. Check. No animals (at least I haven’t seen one apart from lazy cats stretched out on the sun). Check. Some muscles indeed, but it is actually quite pleasant to look at them (err…scratch that one too). Check.

What I see is a group of young alternative men and women (personally I don’t like the term “alternative”, misused too much and is too general – alternative to what?) with a passion for acting, for drama. Their enthusiasm, their bravado is contagious. I am enjoying the preparation process so much that I decide not to stay for the general rehearsal with costumes in case I come to their premiere this weekend. I can’t believe it is happening to me…

Simona Hofmann and Marc Palino Brunner, directors of  EIN SOMMERNACHTSTRAUM show, discuss last details.


  1. Christopher Freeble31 March 2010 at 08:09

    I like this Circolino Pipistrello. It reminds me of Cirque de Soleil maybe?

    Or perhaps you should beware.

    It might be one of those sinister supernatural circuses that lures fair maidens into the mirror maze so that they get lost in their own reflection...lost until...the giant cyclops chained in the back gets hungry.

    Did the circus come to town on a train? If it did, it might be like Ray Bradbury's carnival in "Something Wicked This Way Comes."

    They're called "The Autumn People" and their circus was "Cooger & Dark's Light and Pandemonium Shadow Show."

    According to Bradbury, they come by train at night. Always with a warning whistle.

    "The wails of a lifetime were gathered in that train whistle, from other nights in other slumbering years; the howls of moon-dreamed dogs, the sleep of river-cold winds through January porch screens which stopped the blood, a thousand fire-sirens weeping, or worse! the out-gone shreds of breath, the protests of a billion people dead or dying, not wanting to be dead, their groans, their sighing, burst over the earth!"

    Or maybe it's just a circus after all.

  2. They live and travel in wagons (motorized ones :). But indeed, there is something very Bradbury-esque in the air around circus... I found myself once in the middle of the Circus Monti camp site at dawn...very, very spooky, but it is another post then. Thanks a lot for the comment, Christopher, and for keeping me company ;)

  3. Remember Bradbury's Dwarf: "The mirror has been changed. This new mirror made even tall people little and dark and twisted smaller as you moved forward. And Aimee stood before it thinking that if it made big people small, standing here, God, what would it do to a dwarf, a tiny dwarf, a dark dwarf, astartled and lonely dwarf?...She run through the mirrors, crying. Staring with blurred eyes, it was hard to find th eway, but she found it. She stood blinking at the empty pier, started to run one way, then another, then still another, then stopped". I couldnt stop crying avter reading it..."This whole damn carny business's crazy"...

  4. Christopher Freeble31 March 2010 at 09:28

    Bradbury is just simply damned good.