Too Complicated

Nearly back home after an incredible, exciting, inspiring and stressful 2 weeks of performing at the Moisture Festival in Seattle, USA. 3 ‘planes behind me, now an hour more on the train and a taxi to follow…

iPad plus iPhone internet tethering plus PlainText plus WordPress equals awesome.

I am often surprised by odd compliments. Especially those coming from fellow artists, and especially those that have a form that allow me to simply say “thank you very much”, whilst actually wanting to ask “what does that mean?”. Like “it was nice to see some art”, or “he’s a juggler’s juggler”.

Something that am always ready to reply to with “what does that mean?” however is when jugglers tell me that a particular trick, or sequence, is “too complicated for an audience to understand”. WTF does that mean? It compares to the equally enigmatic yet ridiculous soundbite “they can’t tell the difference if you are juggling 5 or 7”.

Who are these “they” of whom they speak? And why is “their” possible failure to understand an aspect of our performance a reflection on their stupidity, rather than a reflection on our own failure or inability to make ourselves understood?

There are three elements to any play. The play, the actors, and the audience. And the responsibility for success lies with them all. Does that mean we should patronise our audience to the point of stupefaction, reduce them to unknowing vessels, undeserving of our attention and edification? As long as my audience has given me the respect to come and sit in a theatre and watch me perform, then I shall give them respect and, hopefully, provide them with entertainment that also has the possibility to challenge and evoke them.

I shall hold their hands when they need it, but I shall assume them to be smart enough to follow me, and also to lead me to new places within my work.

http://twitter.com/#!/CircusGeeks/status/58125021608030208

3 thoughts on “Too Complicated”

  1. I think this is something very real that I have encountered quite a bit. Take tricking for example – you can do some variations that take off of your non-dominant foot that will blow up a crowd of onlooking trickers but a layman won’t know how it’s different from a back flip. There are some places where it’s just not worth it to do something esoteric and complicated when you can do something simple and clean and get a much bigger reaction. Most people still have no idea what tricking is, so I can’t blame them if they don’t appreciate the effort behind a corkscrew. That’s why I try to point my toes, so at least if the complexity of the skill goes over their head, it’s still “pretty.”

    Just because you can, doesn’t mean you have to. At the same time, if you’re only playing for the crowd, any experienced performer can tell. There always has to be some compromise between the two.

    Though I imagine it’s very different for acrobats, as safety is also a big decider of what ends up being performed.

    1. I don’t follow your final point of “safety is a big decider of what ends up being performed”. You mean “we choose to perform that which is risk free”?

      I say exactly the same thing as a juggler (or any other performer tasked with delivering work as close to perfection as possible): although juggling is inherently more risky, I don’t see any fundamental difference between acrobats and jugglers in terms of choice of risk/safety in performance. Yes, we jugglers will not die if we mess up our patterns, but still we shouldn’t be performing stuff that is “dangerous”.

      Your other points are exactly the kind of comments that I am talking about in my post, and that I have big issues with.

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