This dazzling display of acrobatics, puppetry, and sheer magic, performed to music that ranges from cabaret to jazz, comes from the wild imagination of Aurelia Thieree, granddaughter of the inimitable Charlie Chaplin and great-granddaughter of Eugene O’Neill. Her skills as an actress, an illusionist, and a dancer make this a breathtaking performance.
This cirque extraordinaire kicks of its West Coast tour in Los Angeles in April, with rave notices from the Spoleto Festival and from Paris, where the rave tremendous came from my grandson who saw it there. Clever and inventive, surprising the audience with illusion, visual wit, sight gags, and elaborate illusions involving red velvet curtains with a life of their own…this is a quirky world of fun and fantasy to surprise, amaze, and delight adults and kids alike.
Buzzine Editor-in-Chief Richard Elfman spoke with Aurelia about the background of this unusual and wildly entertaining spectacle:
Richard Elfman: Can you give me the background of your creation, starting with The Cirque Imaginaire?
Aurelia Thieree: Basically, my parents started in the early ‘70s to create a new kind of circus with no animals and to reinvent the circus of those [Victorian] days–their own show. And then my brother and I were born, and from then it was the four of us.
RE: Did that collaboration worked well?
AT: My family has always worked together, so it’s not much different from any other collaboration. We had a common desire to do something and, when working with family, it makes the work easier because you love one another. The key is to have the project be more important.
RE: The present show was created by your mother and performed by you?
RE: This is a broad question. Could you describe what you are trying to convey?
AT: It defines itself little by little. We had no precise idea at the beginning, except that there was a book my mother found called The World Upside Down, with images from the medieval ages where everything was reverted. She thought it would make a good skeleton for visuals. For instance, the man was carrying the horse and the woman was going to war, which in those days was unheard of. Then the idea that it’s a woman alone and she’s gone completely mad–those were the two first ideas. My mother gets inspired by so many different things. I’m still discovering that, every night I do the show. She has a very specific, theatrical style and language, and we all–because I’m not alone on the stage—we all try to use whatever we can to serve and inspire.
RE: How long have you been performing Aurelia’s Oratorio?
AT: Five years now.
RE: You’ve gone all over the world. How is that life–performing and traveling?
AT: I love it. I mean, it’s my life, so the traveling and all that, the theaters…
RE: What city are you based in right now?
AT: I live in New York, but we are performing throughout the U.S.
RE: What would you say the future holds? Are there any other visions on the horizon?
AT: I have no idea, except I want to follow the show until it dies its natural death. We’re starting to work on a new show which would start where this one ends.
RE: What is the greatest satisfaction you have right now as an artist?
AT: To learn every night from it and just have the opportunity to perform it.