Although this year is a little over a month old, a lot of things have occurred. Within the last thirty or so days, we’ve seen everything from a heavy rain storm that went through California and possibly ending (or near ending) a six year drought, to a royal coronation in Washington DC crowning a new king of the USA, to another amusing Super Bowl game. (Congrads to the xxx!) However, perhaps the biggest news story that happened in January was the announcement that Rignling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will be calling it quits this year after 147 years of existence!
Since the news was released around January 15th, folks on social media platforms will all abuzz on this announcement. Each one were giving their reasons to this news, blaming everything from rising costs of brining a circus to communities around the nation (and in some cases, to various nations around the globe), to the lack of interest by families living in a post modern wired world, to attempting to change the circus by adding daredevil motorcycle acts than traditional circus fodder, to the appeal of Cirque De Soleil-type productions, or to the buckling down of complaints from animal welfare pressure groups stating that the circus treats their animals in a cruel fashion.
According to reports stated by Feld Entertainment, the company that has owned and managed the circus for the last fifty years, noted that all of the above were part of the decision to end its run. Perhaps the biggest blow to it all was the fact that last season, the circus did away with the elephants. Die hard fans of the circus know that elephants are just as part of the circus atmosphere as to the clowns, high wire acts, and the three rings where much of the action takes place.
The circus was perhaps one of the forms of entertainment that were driven to the public at large in this nation right after the Civil War. People wanted to become entertained, and what better way to wow them was to present a show that would just do that! Granted, much of the entertainment was mostly for adults as kids were in those days were “seen but not heard”, so the form of amusement was rather crude. However, the circus offered just about any form of high (and low) amusement that can fit under a big top tent.
Over the many years, long after Phineas Taylor Barhum met Al Ringling and his siblings along with James Anthony Bailey to form a circus troupe, this form of entertainment has been part of the domestic landscape for generations, even surpassing the appeal of circuses based in Europe as well as the area known as the Soviet Union where the whole circus bit was first created and established. Throughout the twentieth century, Ringling Bros. thrived, offering those epic shows that packed the public into the tents that sprang up in communities far and near. Even when movies and later TV came to view, people still wanted to see the circus as this medium was best viewed live, rather than on a screen of some kind.
Yours truly was first exposed to the circus through television. My mom, who unintentionally weaned me with television, allowed me to stay up on Friday nights to see International Showtime on NBC, where Don Ameche would serve as host presenting many of the circus acts from Europe and other nations around the globe. (Thus the name International Showtime!) In that same decade, CBS would present their first TV special of the new season that showcased a “sneak preview” of the traveling Rignling Bros. circus. Roy Rogers and Dale Evens would serve as hosts this time around, showing off to those TV audiences bits of pices of the acts that would be “coming to your home town soon!” as Roy and Dale would say.
My first Ringing Bros. live show was the season when the circus celebrated their centennial year. Everything one excepted in a circus show was presented around those three rings. There were the high wire acts, the bareback riders, the lion tamers (featuring Gunther Gebel-Williams handing the big cats), the parade of clowns, and of course, the elephants! The big finale featured a group of elephants bringing a large prop birthday cake in the center of the arena stage by pushing it with their heads. Then another elephant brought in a large “candle” that was a big as a tree trunk. That elephant placed the candle in the top center of the cake with its trunk. Then the candle emitted a shower of colored sparks shooting upward that celebrated one hundred years of the circus, and expecting to last another one hundred years! Oh yes! The circus was not taking place inside of a tent as that was phased out by the middle 1950’s. The greatest show on earth was inside of a arena. But there were smaller tents placed around the arena grounds where the public could see the elephants up close!
Since that time, yours truly attended the Ringing Bros. circus on and off through the years. In recent times I took on a show that occurred at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. And while heading toward the entrance to Staples were these groups handing out flyers and holding sign stating that the circus showed cruelty to their animals, especially for their elephants. Many people who were attending the circus (mostly as families) would see these protesters making their point come across. I would even take a flyer they were handing out to read about the notions that they were stating about, only to stick the flyer inside of the oversized program I would eventually get. (Those flyers are still stuck within the programs I have kept within my archives.)
Whatever the case, Feld Entertainment will play out their current traveling shows through this year making its end run around early-middle May. From that point, the circus will be placed to its end. Rumors have been springing around that Feld will place the circus on hold, perhaps bringing it back soon. However, there has been no official word. The company will still present their others shows, mostly the ice and stage shows co-produced by The Walt Disney Company that features the regular Disney stock as well as a separate show that has the Marvel Comic super heroes. That form of media is more of a cash cow than anything else!
So as the last of the circus fades into the landscape, this is indeed the time to send out the clowns, and to drive the elephants into the elephant graveyard. As for family entertainment? That will still continue and can be experienced through a hand held video screen device. It may not be the greatest show on earth, but what difference does that make–unless there’s an app for that!
NEWS AND REVIEWS
Performing at the Actors Workout Studio in North Hollywood is Sarah Kelly’s WAR STORIES, a play about four up-and-comers involved in the notion of love, romance, and the ups and downs of this human emotion.
The story involves a quartet of people (two guys and two gals) living in the big city (Los Angeles) that hold a connection to one another. Sarah Kelly is Jen, a professional therapist. Alexander Carroll is Jake, a client of hers. Roxanne Jaeckel as Chelsea. She’s an actress seeking some foothold in her career. Samuel Martin Lewis as Sam, a writer who’s also looking for his big break writing for some form of media. Sam wrote a script that featured a character that was a striking resemblance to Chelsea’s persona. She actually auditioned for that part! Those two eventually became a couple. Meanwhile, Jake also has a girlfriend–Chelsea! He tells Jen through his therapy session about his love life, down to the kind of shoes worn by his lover. Jen herself once has a relationship with Sam while the two were in college–not that many years before! These episodes morph into an aspect that gets deeper as it progresses. It’s a simple tale of a not-so-simple situation asking the musical question, why do we love who we love?
This play written by Sarah Kelly who also performs as Jen, can be labeled as a romantic comedy for the new Millennium. Its characters are those of that demographic who are involved in very Los Angeles-centric occupations. (Actor, writer, therapist, etc.) They speak about a rather simple subject of love that becomes anything but! Although it does involve a romance of sorts as well as the humor that comes out of this topic, its expression isn’t anything that’s sappy nor sweet. In fact, it’s more told as an emotion what can be somber, perhaps bitter, and could ask if getting involved with love is really worth the price? Although the playwright claims the characters and their plot points is of fiction, it does contain elements that comes from personal experience. That experience is what makes this play very appealing as is has realism into it rather than nonsense that’s found in a network TV sitcom.
What also makes this show appealing is the simplicity seen in its staging. The stage itself only contains a few furnishings, enough to only establish a setting to where the characters react with one another. This form of theatre is a classic example of using a less-is-more approach. The “less” part is the set decorating. The “more” element is of the players speaking their dialogue and their reactions to it all. Stacy Ann Raposa directs the cast that do ring true to the methods noted and demonstrated.
WAR STORIES is about a battle, but not in the tradition sense. It’s about a conflict that makes the art of love as tough as the theory of war. Emotions can do what they do. And what’s done here is the fight for a war that can be won or otherwise!
WAR STORIES, presented by Dry Martini Productions and Boston Bred Productions, performs at the Actors Workout Studio, 4735 Lankershim Blvd. (one block south of Camarillo Avenue), North Hollywood, until February 26th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday, February 12th at 2:00 and 7:00 PM, Sunday, February 19th at 7:00 PM, and Sunday, February 26th at 2:00 PM.
For ticket reservations or for more information, call (818) 506-3903, or online at http://edm.ticketleap.com/war-stories/
Find WAR STORIES on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/WarStoriesThePlay, and on Instagram at @WarStoriesThePlay
CORRECTIONS: In the review of the play FUGU, appearing in our previous issue (Vol. 21-No. 5), the names noted within the review are corrected as follows:
The Japanese diplomat posted in Lithuania was Sugihara.
The actor playing Kotsuji is Scott Keiji Takeda
The Japanese dancer is Kaz Matamura
The director is Howard Teichman
Thanks to our eagle-eye readers for spotting those errors!
ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE
is a presentation of Linear Cycle Productions
(Accessibly Live’s channel on YouTube)
(Look for us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and see us on YouTube!)
ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2017 Linear Cycle Productions. All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!