BWW Review: CTC's CIRCUS ABYSSINiA Captures Audiences Dreams
Wow! When two brothers from East Africa dream their childhood dreams they imagine an Abyssinian circus. The Tesfamariam brothers, Bichu and Bibi, imagined a magical, marvelous circus that arrives at the Minneapolis Children's Theatre Company (CTC) by way of Ethiopian culture, a country previously titled Abyssinia. In a traveling production performed worldwide, CTC Artistic Director Peter C. Brosius arranged for Circus Abyssinia: Ethopian Dreams to dazzle the Twin Cities. Created and produced by the two Tesfamariam brothers, the circus also collaborates with Writer Cal McCrystal and Choreographer Kate Smith to transfix the audience on the amazing 19 member cast.
Drawing on ancient traditions from Africa, Egypt, China, Greece and Mexico that date back almost 4000 years, the Tesfamariams recreate clowns, hoop dancing, juggling, Chinese pole, acrobatics and contortions. These actors/athletes/performers literally dazzle with spectacular acts and feats of courage accompanied by joyous dances through African and Abyssinian music or themes.
Performing barefoot, acrobats leaped through hoops, women clothed in cat like suits formed stunning human pyramids and men hung by a mere bicep curled around ceiling to floor poles. Amid oh's and ah's together with enthusiastic clapping, an Ethiopian clown invites the audience to participate by saying Wow! Yes, wow, as the clown reminisced Harpo Marx with a touch of mime from Marcel Marceau, he placed a neon green rope on the stage floor---and then walked the "tight rope." The audience roared with laughter and doubled the volume on their wows.
Each performance, easily divided into two acts with a short intermission, captured the audience's complete attention. A six year old boy sitting with his father named Tatyum, loved every minute of the fascinating performers. As a young little man who participates in CTC's summer programs, he personally cheered in delight with every change of act, especially the hoop dancing. At the finish to the hoop dancing, the performer was tossed silver hoops attached similar to the retro "slinky" and mesmerized the crowd. Tatyum also appreciated the bright and spiraling colors used in everything from the costumes to the superb lighting designs, which added substantially to the production values.
The Circus experience appeals to every age as the Ethiopian performers push the human body's performance, flexibility and strength to awe inspiring new limits. Many of the performers trained for ten plus years, and a note in the program states: "These are trained professionals, do not attempt at home." For all those young dreamers watching in the audience, possibly attending the show like Tatyum, that's wise advice to share on the way out of the theater.
The production runs through October 20, and while CTC premieres their innovative two actor fairy tale Snow White, be sure to attend this cultural phenomena, a spectacular tribute to the African Circus tradition where these performers train in certified schools to perfect their skills. These inspirational Tesfamariam brothers envisioned a dream, A dream brought to fruition for this spectacular performance and reminds everyone in the audience that often, with patience, perseverance and practice, dreams can materialize right before your eyes. Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams provides living proof...Wow!
Children's Theatre Company presents CIRCUS ABYSSINIA: ETHIOPIAN DREAMS through October 30. Snow White premieres October 4. For information on the performance times, please visit www.childrenstheatre.org.