A Smirkus Tech Byte

As I entered the Chapiteau, dimly lit with some work lights and LED fixtures, I looked around for our lighting technician, Desirae Brownlee, who told me to meet her there for a photo. I saw Josh Shack — the production manager — and Ben Scheff — technical director — hard at work positioning lights and using a clever pulley system to send lights and clamps to the cupola of the tent. That’s when I realized that there — harnessed thirty feet above the ring, adjusting and placing stage lights — hovered Desirae, appearing to defy gravity.

Ben Scheff, technical director, adjusts one of Smirkus' new LED stage lights.

These unsung heroes of the circus ring truly make the show go on. Also in the technical team are Jason Eckenroth, sound designer and technician; Cris Clark, head rigger; Tim Cryan, lighting designer; Samantha Setayesh, backstage intern; and Rafi Benjamin, production intern. These highly-skilled masters of their crafts make sure the troupers and musicians can be seen and heard by everyone to ensure a fantastic show.

Since Smirkus performs an entirely original themed performance each year, the creative team tirelessly collaborates to build a brand-new set and props to construct a set and props to convey the theme. This year, Michael “Tex” Redinger is Smirkus’ prop master. He magically turns sheets of plywood, foam, and plastic into spectacular circus props!

In the last day or so, the acts have matured. What was once the mere outline of an idea has blossomed.  What seemed impossible — the creation of an original, two-hour-long show with music, rigging, lights, and acts — is unfolding before our eyes.  The fact that the show is in nine days is looming over the creative team and cast, but I am 100-percent confident that the troupe will be performance-ready by this time next week.

In preparation for the tour to begin, the concessionaires had a meeting with Ed LeClair, executive director, on how to hawk popcorn, cotton candy, and and circus souvenirs. Part art, part science, it takes cooperation and coordination among team members, plus stage presence and charisma. I know I won’t be able to resist a hot box of salty popcorn, a bag full of sugary, fluffy, cotton candy, and an icy glass of fresh lemonade when hawked by these pros.

What is your favorite circus concession item? Let me know in the comments!

Alex Zaprudsky
Tour Communications Intern

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4 Responses to A Smirkus Tech Byte

  1. Suzy says:

    Have fun Hazel and Andy!

  2. Siobhan says:

    Clown noses!

  3. Tara says:

    Thanks Desirae for the little look into your world of friends on the show. Love u MOM

  4. rkaaland says:

    30 feet in the AIR, OH MY!! Way to go Desirae!

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