Or so says the New York Times. A mere five days after a lengthy profile of Cirque du Soleil co-founder and owner Guy Laliberté, which I wrote about in this post, the Times is back with a three-page preview of Cirque's upcoming debut at Radio City Music Hall, the stage show Zarkana. And though their previews tend to be fluff pieces, the Times is again raising questions about the Cirque's artistic direction, comparing Zarkana to Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and wondering out loud about the caliber of the theatre and clowning components.
Here are a few quotes:
In an effort to rebound from the rare failure of the intimate “Banana Shpeel” in New York last year, the one thing everyone agrees on is that this will be a very big show. There will be daredevil feats, bold images and high-flying acrobatic spectacle. As Mr. Girard put it: “No theater. No vaudeville. We want to be more Cirque than Cirque.”
Mr. Bazinet’s job is to help guide 15 performers of diverse backgrounds into a comic unit called the Movers. Less than a week earlier he had spoken to his friend David Shiner, the director of “Banana Shpeel,” who told him what he already knew: that clowning at a theater the size of Radio City is impossible. “The clowns are going to die,” Mr. Shiner says. “You need an intimate space for clowning, otherwise you have nothing.”
At Cirque du Soleil no one is more depressed than the clowns. That’s not just because the painted smiles hide a deep-seated sadness, although there is some truth to that stereotype. (“You can’t imagine the number of clowns I’ve seen cry in my life,” Mr. Laliberté says.) Rather, it is because developing a clown act requires more experimentation and spontaneity than the Machine allows time for. And Cirque was built on arty, sometimes twee clowning that can’t fill up a large space like Radio City.
[Okay, I admit it, I thought "twee" was a typo, but it turns out it means "excessively or affectedly quaint, pretty, or sentimental." —jt]
The story is, if anything, more impenetrable. When asked about it, Mr. Girard answers abruptly, Cirque “is not a good place to tell a story, period.”
You can read the whole article here.
And here's a video preview that'll give you some idea of the look of the show; there are more on YouTube.
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