A few years ago in Montreal, I attended a workshop on presenting modern circus. I love circus. The mix of music, drama, acrobatics, magic – it is simultaneously immersive and captivating.
I must have felt emboldened by the energy in the room. I found myself standing up to ask a question of the world-class panel.
And so, in a darkened conference room filled with a hundred or more participants I formulated my question about scalability. En francais – in French.
I explained that we present events in intimate surroundings in mostly rural settings and wondered aloud if circus could be scaled to be performed in a ‘salon’ (livingroom).
The panel members were very animated in their response – talking about how circus could be presented in any ‘salon’ (theatre) – no matter where – if the technical requirements could be met.
I remained standing and politely requested a follow-up question. I explained I was talking about the much smaller version of ‘salon’ – one where the audience sat on sofas, kitchen chairs and on the floor.
There was some nervous laughter and several participants turned to see who was asking the question. I had, inadvertently, captured the attention and imagination of the room.
We had a chat right there about what it means for audiences out in the countryside to be able to connect with performing artists – with musicians – in a way that just can’t be replicated in a big city venue.
How by sharing that experience with children their imaginations are sparked and they have dreams and understand the power of live performance… so they reach for the stars because an artist took the time to visit their small town.
How by going out to where rural audiences live and work and play, artists (and the brands which sponsor them) are showing real respect for the folks who may – one day – make a pilgrimage to see those artists perform in a much bigger venue.
To their credit, the presenters not only assured me it was possible but established lasting relationships with our organization to ensure that we could make it happen. I love that story. I also love that I was invited to visit the Cirque de Soleil’s own salon (theatre) and wander around backstage. And dream a few dreams of my own. Sweetness.
Be well. Practice big medicine.*
*Big Medicine = the right people working together at the right time will be Big Medicine. I’ve been saying ‘Be well. Practice big medicine’ for as long as I can remember. It is my own very personal version of ‘Sawu Bona’, the Zulu greeting which means ‘I see you’… I see all of you, I see your good works, I see the difference you are making in the world.