Semi Circus: Murmurations

A version of this review of the Semi Circus show Murmurations originally appeared on the blog

Semi Circus  Murmurations


Semi Circus MurmurationsI recently saw a new Chicago circus perform their first show.  Semi Circus started in 2016 as a circus collective.  They use circus skills, physical theater, improv and other skills to create plays.  Murmurations is their first show.

The show starts off as a kind of therapy session.  A therapist comes in and asks an audience member if they have been working on what they talked about last week.  She then asks other audience members.  Slowly the company comes in, and each of them has a quirk.  Throughout the course of the show, each person stands forward to do their act as a way of dealing with/ expressing their quirk.

By the way, a murmuration is a formation of starlings that make complex and interesting formations as they fly.  This is a good word for this kind of work, as the actors murmurate (assuming it’s a verb) as they display their skills and their foibles.

The show was a very lovely mix of circus and theatre.  There was a lot of comedy, some very impressive skills, and a lot of heart to the show.  One particularly moving part for me was when the therapist does her bit, which involved a talking belly (her own).  It was funny, brave, hilarious, and moving all at once.

The company is directed by local circus writer Kimzyn Campbell, and two of her children are in the show as well.  It reminded me a lot of the Montreal circus company Sept Droits de la Main (7 Fingers of the Hand), a group of young circus artists who have now built seven or eight shows that tour worldwide with a similar aesthetic.  The 7 Fingers are more virtuosic in their circus skills, but the ability to really share stories while in a handstand, or while juggling, or by doing barrel rolls is in some ways more important, and these young performers have that.

I look forward to seeing the next iteration of either this show or a new one.
Find out more about Semi Circus on their facebook page.

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