Tuesday started off pleasantly sunny, but soon after breakfast it turned cool again. Troupers layered up with their Smirkus sweatshirts and sweatpants as they got ready for warm-ups and the start of rehearsals, and before getting started for the day I grabbed a jacket and warmer pair of shoes from my bunk.
Since their arrival less than two weeks ago, the troupers have been working hard at perfecting the skills for their acts, but this week they have begun working on the blocking (who goes where and when they go there) of each act to make the show come together. In hand balances, troupers Lindsey Barrows, Nick Zelle, and Josue Lujan practiced sequences of moves both alone and in synchronization. It was really cool to see them coming together – to see them doing these very difficult skills in a routine, and to then see the routines being put together for the whole act! Josue told me that hand balances is his favorite act because “In Cuba, it is my life.” His dedication to the craft pays off, as I saw him doing one-handed balances high in the air… pretty impressive!
With just over a week till the first performance of Oz Incorporated, between classes the troupers have begun trying on their costumes! From Dorothy to the cowardly lion to the flying monkeys, the troupers certainly seem pleased with their costumes- while shooting classes and writing on the porch, there was a near-constant stream of troupers running to show each other what they’d be wearing in the show- and most seemed very pleased. Wardrobe Supervisor Siobhan Martel, who has been with Smirkus for 5 summers, arrived at the Smirkus lot over the weekend, and with so many different outfits to keep track of, she certainly has her hands full for this summer!
The weather flip-flopped between warm and sunny and cold and gray all week, but even this couldn’t deter Smirkos from juggling, unicycling, and clowning around outside during breaks. You can tell that they want to work hard and do their best, but it’s evident in the smiles on their faces that they are having fun, too. It’s important to be able to have fun with what you’re doing when you’re working as hard as these kids are!
This week also saw some press visiting rehearsals – the Caledonian Record visited on Wednesday, and the Barton Chronicle visited on Friday. After observing and photographing a trampoline/Chinese Pole class, the Caledonian Record interviewed some of the troupers who are from Vermont. As she talked to sisters Emily and Ariana Wunderle at a picnic table by the mess hall, I sat with Lauren, our Director of External Relations, watching the interview take place. It was a peaceful day (as peaceful, of course, as life gets on a circus lot!), the sun was out, and I heard the faint sounds of “Stairway to Heaven” playing from the pie car; I was content. For the past two weeks, I have been observing, photographing, and documenting everything that the troupers have done, and it’s rewarding to see them getting recognition through local press outlets. Circus Smirkus is a very special place.
As June 29th draws closer, the details of Oz Incorporated are coming together. The troupers have begun rehearsing their acts with the music that they’ll be performing with in the show; juggling coach Tyler Parks covered juggling clubs in sparkling silver tape; and Production Manager Josh Shack has started experimenting with make-up looks for each character. There are so many details that need to come together in order for the show to go on, and what makes Circus Smirkus such a special place is that everyone- from trouper to coach to staff- is working together to make it happen.