If you've never seen an aerial artist tumble down the length of a 20-foot-long silk ribbon hanging from the ceiling, now's your chance.
Mesmerizing? Whimsical? Wacky? Dark? Sexy?
La Luna: A Midnight Circus is a play that's not very easily defined.
Go See It!
La Luna: A Moonlight Circus
- June 29-30, 2012
- Alberta Rose Theatre, Portland
Red paper petals fall from the ceiling. Grinning monsters peer through windows and chew on toothbrushes. Stern wanders the stage in pajamas and socked-feet, playing his accordion, reminiscing and snoring. The play ventures into the grotesque — Stern's character is fascinated by maggots and spiders — but when the spider-like aerialists manifest his imagination by climbing a 20-foot silk, the scene can seem tear-jerkingly beautiful.
According to director Stephanie Lopes, that response is exactly the point.
"It's just this thing that happens when you see something beautiful or art that moves you. It transports you," says Lopes. "Your emotional response takes you out of your current spot in the world and on a magical journey through a feeling or a memory."
For Stern's character, Henry Lee, the journey moves through grief and loss — he was unfaithful to his wife, long dead and mourns her, but is unable to resist other women. The aerialist performances occur most often while Lee sleeps, and are often directly correlated with his stints of singing and dialogues. "There's a plot that unfolds, but it's very soft. The story is in the container of his dreams," Lopes explains.
In addition to his work with Night Flight, Eric Stern is in the midst of writing a musical and trying to open a new, independent opera company. Plus, there's Vagabond Opera, which was featured on last season's Oregon Art Beat.
"As much as I would love Vagabond Opera to be as popular and lucrative as, say, Pink Martini — it's not. And so I do other things and I'm actually happy about that," says Stern.
La Luna is unusual in its construct — it's loosely scripted but highly stylized, and depends largely on Stern's extemporaneous speaking skills to propel the narrative forward.
"I really like working like this," says Stern. "We just sort of had a map. They’d say, 'Well, you kind of talk here and maybe sing a song there.' "
"I would definitely describe it as collaborative," says Lopes. Dancers were given the freedom to choreograph their own individual acts, and Stern was expected to convey a story, but develop his own dialog and characterization.
The partnership is new for both Lopes and Stern, who met less than a year ago when Stern emceed a show featuring the Night Flight performers. Except for a brief role in a play two years ago, Stern has been absent from the theater scene for more than a decade, and this is Night Flight’s first narrative-based theatrical production.
"It's so unique what they're doing," says Stern. "I mean, they're doing this aerial thing and they're adding a narrative to it and that is, to me, truly unique and fringy and very Portland."
- Portland's Vagabond Opera Arts & Life
- Vagabond Opera Oregon Art Beat
- Skip vonKuske’s One-Man Band Arts & Life