Monday, 8 October 2007

Magick and Circus Solarum

Blessed is the man who expects nothing for he shall never be disappointed. From a David Copperfield performance I expected a performance: an engaged, witty, sincere and magnetic personality; fantastickal staging that would transport the audience to another realm; a series of illusions that inspire and amaze. Instead, for the exhorbitant price of admission, I was delivered a bored, evidently unhappy actor with a stale act and an insipid and often unintelligible patter, who mugged half-heartedly at his audience. Evidently he thought so little of us that he did not bother to change into stage costume. I was saddened in particular by his willingness to trivialize his own grandfather's history and turn it into a parlor act (if any of the story he told us was indeed true, for he but read his lines by rote, with no shred of emotion or sincerity). He showed us card tricks and some illusions, but I saw very little magick on that stage.
"Ka" was quite different. I saw this Cirque du Soleil show in previews several years ago, and while they have not improved many of the weakest scenes, it is still a compelling, magickal and inspiring presentation. Street performers have always aspired toward art: opera itself was born in the marketplace and the forum, and Cirque remains glorified street performance in spite of their ambition and cash. The company seeks to astonish and move, but without libretto or unified score, it does not speak to the heart or the soul. "O" approaches art most closely, but "Ka" tries too hard to impress and dazzle the eye. We in the audience long for something familiar on stage, a door where our spirit may pass into those of the characters on the stage (and I am in mind of the sympathetic performances of Fidelio and Leonore), but Cirque strives to make all utterly alien, bizzare, remote, unapproachable, impossible. There is one moment, a simple scene in which two performers comfort each other with hand shadows cast upon the vast, moveable stage, momentarily turned screen, that is masterful and touching by virtue of its universality and humility. For that one moment all the rest is forgiven, nay, transformed by that pure moment into a symbol of art impoverished by commerce.
I once thought The Show Must Go On should sell tickets, if only to eliminate griefers and idle rabble at its performances. But I have changed my mind, and agree with Osprey that it is valuable because its creativity is unrestrained and the passion of its performers is born of love, not financial need.
I am returned to Orion, though with little time to spare in world, and missing my friends rather more than usual. My word the desert is dry, in more senses than one!

1 comment:

Osprey said...

Ooh - you are returned? Excellent!