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Thursday, March 10, 2011

The breathtaking "46 Circus Acts in 45 Minutes" will flip into the Byham this week

Performers flip, juggle and balance against the clock during '46 Circus Acts in 45 Minutes'
By Andrew Druckenbrod, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Big Top be gone. Toss those three rings aside. And as for animals? The human kind will do just fine.
"46 Circus Acts in 45 Minutes" is a new take on the traditional circus. It is as streamlined as that brave performer shot out of a cannon -- and nearly as fast. Performed by a group of acrobatics and circus performers known as C!RCA, it is perhaps the only circus with an exact deadline."You barely have time to breathe," says Ben Knapton, associate director of the Australian troupe. It has 14 members spread out around the world in various shows at any one time. "46 Circus Acts" is an audience favorite for its furious action. "We are always trying to beat the clock and sometimes it comes down to a whisker."
"There are four artists who are trying to perform as many circus acts as they can within the time frame," says Pamela Lieberman, executive director of the Pittsburgh International Children's Theater. C!RCA concludes the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's Family Series this season. "There's acrobatics, juggling and balancing packed in, with a clock on stage. The audience helps them keep time and cheers them on."
"There are wisecracks for children and parents," she adds. Even a knife-throwing episode has more sharp comedy than blades.
As if that humor and the title aren't evidence enough, C!RCA loves to playfully poke fun at traditional circus amusement.
"Some of them reference old circus acts," says Mr. Knapton. One acrobatic tradition is a "Two High" -- one performer standing on another's head. "Usually it's a female standing on top of a rather large male. We put the female on the bottom."
But it's not just that act that the troupe want to put on its head. "There is a real philosophical basis to C!RCA, to changing the artform," he says. "We don't do animals. We found that the demand for our type of circus is [great]. It's about approaching the circus with new ideas."
Perhaps one of the best of those ideas is simply presenting a 45-minute show: three-quarters of an hour is about as long as the average kid's attention span. "[It's] not just about the speed," says Mr. Knapton.
That's why the two women and two men at the center of the show don't mind the Herculean effort involved.
"It is absolutely an endurance test and the guys are pretty tired afterward," says Mr. Knapton. "But it is what they love."Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11069/1130804-325.stm#ixzz1GBzVe63h


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