Saturday, September 17, 2005

A day at the circus

Well, it wasn't a whole day and it wasn't really the circus but M-Girl and I went to see Hephaestus: A Greek mythology circus tale at Lookingglass Theatre this afternoon. It was fabulous! It's narrated by a young girl (more about her later). Meredith said the little girl was her favorite part of the show. She's reading a book about the story of Hephaestus.

Hephaestus is the son of the Greek goddess Hera who is unhappily married to Zeus. She secretly gives birth to Hephaestus but because he's horribly disfigured and ugly, she casts him off Mt. Olympus. He falls for many years and by the time he lands in Lake Lemnos, he's fully grown. The queen of the sea nymphs saves him and he discovers that he has a talent for making things, including beautiful jewelry and "people" made out of silver. Hera sees this and gets jealous. She sends Isis, the Goddess of the rainbow, down to ask Hephaestus to come back. He creates a golden throne for Hera who comes down to earth to receive the gift but when she sits in the throne, she is bound by invisible ropes. Hephaestus refuses to let her go. Hera sends Ares, the God of war to convince Hephaestus to release her but he still refuses. Hera finally offers Aphrodite as a bride for Hephaestus. When Hephaestus sees Aphrodite, he falls in love and agrees to let Hera go. He then creates an even more beautiful throne for Hera and takes it up to her on Mt. Olympus.

Lookingglass has a relatively small (p.r. types would call it "intimate") theater space on Michigan Avenue in the old water pumping station across the street from the Water Tower. It's basically a black box, theater in the round. Not a place that you would expect to see world-class circus performances but that's what we saw today. Hera is played by a woman who is a member of the 7th generation of the Wallenda family. Her brother was in the show along with several other adults who literally grew up in circus families. They are amazing performers and it was surreal seeing real-life Wallendas.

One of the best things about the show is the way they weave the circus acts into the story in a way that fits better than I expected. Each of the gods/goddesses does a performance that seamlessly fits within the story. Ares was played by a young man who did rope tricks requiring amazing strength, control and courage. Isis was a beautiful woman with rainbow colored bows in her hair and she did graceful tricks on a rope swing. The queen of the nymphs did incredible hula hoop tricks with silver hoops created by Hephaestus. (This very moment, Meredith walked into my room with her hula hoop to practice!) Hera was strong and daring on a hoop trapeze (the first throne made by Hephaestus) and the tightrope. The music - heavy on the percussion - was perfect.

Ok, now back to the young narrator. She was nine years old and this was her theater debut. Not surprisingly, I thought about Abby the whole time I watched her. She has brown hair that was pulled back in pony tails. Her two front teeth are just coming in - just like A-Girl. (Thinking about it now, my heart hurts. I miss my baby). It was hard watching someone else's child perform knowing that my own baby is performing and I haven't been there to see her. But I digress.

As M-Girl and I were about to leave the theater, the girl was in the lobby with her dad so M-Girl and I went to say hi to her and tell her that we enjoyed her performance. I couldn't help but tell her dad about our own little performer. I talked to the girl about what it's like to be on stage and asked her if she was nervous. She said that before the show she walks around saying "Oh, no. I can't do this." but then when she gets on stage everything is fine. She seemed really comfortable out there - she has to sing and hit cues with her lines and she did a great job. Her dad and I talked about how incredible it is to see your own child on stage like that. We both grabbed our hearts and shook our heads at the same time! It's hard to find the right words to describe the feeling.

He said that people involved in the production have been encouraging them to get an agent for their daughter. This was not only her theater debut, it's her professional debut. He said they were not sure what they wanted to do and he asked if he could call me to talk about agents, etc. You all know how much I love to talk about A-Girl's career and give my advice to total strangers! So, of course I said yes.

I was a little nervous about approaching them in the lobby - you never know how people in that situation might act. I mean, they could have thought I was a psycho or something. A psycho hanging out with a five-year old and her pink Hello Kitty purse. Ok, maybe not. But still - her dad could have been a stuck up stage parent or something. Luckily, he's a really nice guy. Us down-to-earth, friendly-type stage parents have to stick together.


landismom said...

That sounds like a really great show. And good on you for going up to the dad--I think that's great.

Sandra said...

I just went to the Lookingglass site and I wish we could see that. My daughter is sending the link to her best friend in Chicago, because she'd love it.

cmhl said...

that show sounds awesome!!!!