The Actor’s Gymnasium’s Circuscope Review – You’ll Flip Over It!

The Actors Gymnasium’s Circuscope Winter 2015 bills itself as “entertainment that flies.” Does it ever! It flies in the face of imagination, flies in the face of gravity, flies in the face of reality! There is no way not to be totally transported and completely enveloped in the performance. You sit there spellbound by what these people--children, teens and adults--can do.

I get around. Let's just say that I could I could be kind of jaded about what I have seen. But I've never seen anything like this or enjoyed it as much! It's not just the beauty. It's not just the athleticism. It's everything--everything about the experience of being there among these exuberant, talented, beautiful, imaginative incredible people.

We were especually captivated by the huge number of jugglers—we think we counted 20––all throwing and catching at the same time! By what sleight of hand were they were able to climb the same ropes they later walked on like they were a solid platform?

But there was still so much more! Circuscope is so completely enveloping that you become a part of this new reality yourself. Really. We were transported by the things these people can do. Their marriage of art and performance are utterly remarkable and totally involving. Why? Because what they do is impossible. Dean Evans, one of the headliners of the circus group describes it as "one of the most unique shows… I've worked on in my 10 years in Chicago and visually incredibly different than any other circus I ever seen."

Assistant stage manager Leslie Fisher agrees "I don't just think the general population has much experience with circus in this vein they think the top they think of animals they don't think it's stuff like this but this is telling a human story through circus this is telling a story using circus elements and ways you didn't even know they could be used"

Spectacle theater veteran director Vaness Stallings will transport audiences through surprising acrobatics, mime, live music and other unworldly design it's like an Alice in Wonderland journey of two clowns. Those fearles, ingenious are played by Dean Evans and Molly Plunk (perfect name isn't it?) Together these two explore the world of not being human, “an organism, an amoeba or a blob or whatever.” 

Think about challenges for the production team!

  • Director, spectacle theater veteran Vanessa Stallings, who transports audiences through “surprising acrobatics, mime, live music and other-worldly design” just did it again!
  • Circus Choreographer, Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi is at the top of her game. These performers dance on air!
  • Costume Designer, Delia Ridenour, who, among other ingenious “strange creature” looks developed a head-to-toe unitard completely covered with fringe to undulate with every body movement of the acrobat/artist. You've got to see it: it's gorgeous-creepy-fantasmgorical.
  • In addition to Dean Evans and Molly Plunk, Circuscope features professional circus performers, Meredith "Tommy" Tomlins and Leah Leor, as well as advanced students from The Actors Gymnasium's Teen Ensemble. Everyone in the cast is so proficient, they just blend with the group.
  • In case it's not patently obvious, I strong recommend you see The Actors Gymnasium’s Circuscope Winter 2015! You've got to March 22:
  • For additional information on The Actors Gymnasium's innovative programming, please visit actorsgymnasium website or call 847-328-2795.The Actors Gymnasium is located at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes Street, Evanston, IL - just off of the Noyes purple line 'L' stop. The Noyes Cultural Arts Center is owned by the City of Evanston and home to over 20 artists and arts organizations offering music, theater, and visual arts programs and studios. The galleries exhibit local artists, with exhibitions changing every two months.
  • Circuscope performances run February 14 - March 22, with shows at 7:30 pm on Fridays, 4:30 and 7:30 pm on Saturdays and 3:00 pm on Sundays (No 4:30 show on 2/14). Tickets can be purchased through actorsgymnasium website. There are a limited number of tickets available for each performance and tickets are first come, first served. Check early for the best selection.
  • Photos: Cole Simon

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