In its newest touring creation, Cirkopolis, Montreal's Cirque Éloize (serk el-WUHZ) takes the circus to the city.
Cirkopolis, which makes its Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State debut Sept. 27, dives into an imaginary world and pushes the boundaries of visual and audio innovation. Circus, dance, music and theater meet in a scenic universe enhanced by video projections.
Tickets for the show are still available.
Metropolis, Fritz Lang's 1927 silent movie classic, and Brazil, a 1985 dark comedy film directed by Monty Python's Terry Gilliam, inspired the themes and imagery that guide audiences through this industrial landscape.
Co-commissioned by the Center for the Performing Arts, Cirkopolis unfolds in the heart of an imposing factory city in which gears and dark portals symbolize the crushing lack of individuality.
The company's most recent performance at Penn State was in 2011's iD. As in iD, Cirque Éloize Artistic Director Jeannot Painchaud started with the notion of identity when planning Cirkopolis. But this time out, for the first time in one of his shows, the story focuses on one man.
"The idea was to put this character in the center of a gray city in some sort of totalitarian world where he will contaminate the city by his poetry, by his folly," Painchaud said.
Bathed in the music of an original score, a cast of 12 acrobatic performers rage against monotony, reinvent themselves and dare the limits of their environment.
Cirkopolis might sound especially serious, Painchaud said, but the drama is more in the aesthetics than in the storyline. The show includes a considerable amount of levity.
"Both funny and clever, Cirkopolis has so many scintillating and inspiring moments it's no surprise it gets a standing ovation from a wildly enthusiastic audience," wrote a reviewer for England's The Stage.
Hear and watch my interview with Painchaud, which includes video excerpts of Cirkopolis.
Artistic Viewpoints, an informal moderated discussion featuring Cirkopolis Tour Manager Valérie D'Amours, is offered in Eisenhower one hour before the performance and is free for ticket holders. Artistic Viewpoints regularly fills to capacity, so seating is available on a first-arrival basis.