Halfway

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Our stop in Waltham marks the halfway point of the 2012 Big Top Tour and that means many things depending on whom you ask. Yesterday evening, before the seven o’clock show, I wandered the back lot with my cheap yet trusty voice recorder from Rite Aid and asked Smirkus folks how it felt to stand right in the middle.

I exited the back lot cluster of sleeper trailers affectionately named Trailer-Ville and met our composer and keyboardist, Tristan Moore. In the weeks before the tour left Greensboro Tristan composed the entire score for Topsy Turvy Time Travel. Tristan worked non-stop during those weeks and committed himself 110% to crafting music for the various acts, sleeping little and practically living in the Greensboro office at his keyboard. This is what he told me:

“We’ve successfully navigated the first stages of development of the show. We had a very intense pre-production [but with] with being on the road and making changes in the music, we’re stabilizing. [Now] we can start to relax a little bit.”

Tristan also said that the halfway point in the tour is when he and drummer Parker Bert are so comfortable with the music that they can even begin to experiment with the different pieces and tailor them more to specific moments in the acts.

The second person I met was one of our three trouper counselors, Danielle “Dani” Kehlmann, who was drinking iced coffee outside of the backstage tent. I posed the same question.

“It means that unfortunately the summer is half over…” she began. I attempted humor and pointed that she was making a rather gloomy observation; a “glass-half-empty” kind of outlook. She replied with this sharp criticism:

“I find that metaphor really silly because the glass is technically, either half full or half empty depending on the circumstance; if I were to take a glass of water and fill it half way with water, the glass is half full. If I were to take a full glass and drink half of it, the glass is half empty. At no point is there a time where I am deciding if the glass is half full or if it is half empty.”

Trying to counter her point that the traditional glass of water metaphor was inapplicable, I pointed to the cup of coffee that she had set down. “If I were to find a half-consumed cup of coffee right there, what would be your observation?”

“That Smirkus runs on coffee. Someone filled a cup of coffee and drank half of it.”

I conceded defeat and Dani continued:

“I am psyched because Maine is a beautiful place and Montpelier is where I lived all year.” She said. “However, the tour is what we wait for all year and for the tour to be half over means another year of waiting.”

I then asked her about the remainder of the tour and what her responsibilities will be. Her answer was concise:

“I have to make sure the kids focus on the glass they just filled and they think about the rest of the glass that is full because all of the audiences that are coming in are seeing it for the first time. So it needs to be just as wonderful and exciting and refreshing as the first half of the audiences.”

The end of the tour is not in sight quite yet, but it is a reality that will be confronted at a later time. For the troupers, the thought is understandably distressing, yet Dani maintained that the idea of departure keeps everyone focused and in the moment.

“And that is a life lesson,” she said. “That right now is forever.”

Evan Johnson, Communications Intern

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