The Circus of Vices & Virtues
The Circus of Vices & Virtues 2003 is a seven-act, semi-narrative circus based on the medieval vices and virtues. Using acrobats, aerialists, stiltwalkers, clowns, DJ beats, and other elements, it brings to life the surreal imagery of the series of prints on this theme created by painter and draftsman Pieter Bruegel in 16th century Flanders. The production transplants Bruegel's mordant commentary on public moralism into contemporary American society.
In this excerpt:
(Part I: PRIDE, Auditorium): Clown Helda (Anna Zastrow) starts her new job "as a meek, paper-pushing drone and evolves by increasingly absurd, funny stages into a rabid, whip-cracking workaholic" (--Brooklyn Free Press) (Part II: GREED, Main Entrance): Helda, now an executive and much taller than she was, meets fellow stilter Chad (Jeff Wills) on the taxi line. The two amicably compare their holdings, but they compete for the ultimate acquisition when it is placed within their reach.
Walkabout: Dick (Sonia Werner), an Ubu-like politician who has difficulty enunciating full sentences, will be keeping an eye on his citizens from his perch on a custom-made golden chariot (read: shopping cart).
Cirque Boom: Founded in January 2002, Cirque Boom is a Brooklyn-based ensemble dedicated to the creation of content-driven works of experimental circus theater. It envisions the real integration of ideas with spectacle: circus that matters and theater that amazes. Working with over 20 designers, performers, musicians and other artists each year, Cirque Boom collaborates, commissions, produces, and creates. The company presents large and small-scale work in proscenium and black box theaters, in public parks and underground clubs, at political protests and international festivals. Cirque Boom's Circus of Vices and Virtues 2003, a Bruegel-inspired take on contemporary politics and modern evangelism, sold out its month-long run at the Brooklyn Lyceum in April. The company will bring its signature combination of the sublime, the grotesque, and smart social commentary to its 2003-2004 project, a circus based on the Song of Solomon.
Helda (Clown, Stilts): Anna Zastrow has been everything from a grotesque pimp-butcher in Sweet Ugly to Frau Bergman in Spring Awakening to the ringmaster at a circus in France. In 2000, she produced Dream/Play, an initial experimental venture for her theater company Loka Maer based on Strindberg's work. Anna is a graduate of Ecole Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq, as well as The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Anna joined Cirque Boom in 2003.
Chad (Stilts): Jeff Wills has been a New York-based actor for over three years, and has been performing in circus for 2 of them, performing in Cirque Boom's Circuses of Vices and Virtues 2002 and 2003 as well as the Manhattan Theatre Source's production of "Significant Circus" in 2001. Jeff recently returned from performing a Commedia dell Arte show, "Zuppa del Giorno," with The Northeast Theatre in Pennsylvania.
Dick (Cart): Sonia Werner is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and trained at Michael Howard Studios and Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris, France. She has worked with Cirque Boom since 2001, performing in its first two Bruegel-based projects, The Bruegel Triptych and the Circus of Vices & Virtues 2002.