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Celebration Barn announces cancellation of 2020 season

The theater in Paris, Maine forced to close due to pandemic.

Amanda Huotari, executive artistic director at Celebration Barn Theater in Paris, poses outside of the theater Friday. The organization has canceled programming this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo ©2020 – Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Reposted from The Sun Journal

PARIS — Celebration Barn Theater has canceled its programming for this year because artists from around the world can’t travel here and audiences can’t be close to each other because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Amanda Huotari, executive artistic director, said most of the theater’s revenue comes from hosting artists from around the world for workshops, residencies and performances.

“Over the past four weeks — it feels like four years — we really took the journey of feeling the heartbreak of having to cancel … It just felt that there really was no way we could move forward with programming this season with any certainty,” she said.

The announcement was posted Thursday on Facebook.

“We don’t know when our audiences are going to feel comfortable gathering again in close proximity, we don’t know when travel bans will make it possible for artists to travel, and for artists that are traveling in to do workshops, we don’t know if their loss of work is going to impact their ability to travel in the country right now. We knew that it would not be in the barn’s best interest or the communities’ best interest if we went forward and had a season.”

In its 47 years, Celebration Barn has never faced the complete cancellation of the season, and the future is unclear, she said.

“Financially it’s a real heavy lift to see a path forward,” Huotari said.

At the beginning of last year, a new financial gift program laid a sold financial foundation for the coming season. However, major concerns remain.

“We have never faced something like this before,” Houtari said. “Right now, we’re 100 percent in the throes of upheaval. We applied for emergency funding. We don’t know if our application is in the works, but the payroll protections funds have just run out, waiting to see if more become available.

She said in the coming weeks, the theater on Stock Farm Road will have a better idea of what it can do during the canceled season; if live-streamed shows are still a possibility, or online workshops and learning opportunities. But the real focal point is the 2021 season, and if the appetite of audiences will be changed moving forward. – “ I think that we really will have an opportunity to respond to the way in which the world has shifted in response to this experience, and the way the needs of our artists and audiences have changed … people are going to be hungry for different things, and I think we really have an opportunity to respond to that,” she said.

Traditionally, performances happen in close proximity, as do workshops. But Huotari said avenues might open for more spaced-out, inventive performances.

“Our expertise is really in the area of getting people together for an immediate theater experience,” she said. “While our history with doing that generally in a room in close proximity to each other, we’ve also done theater safaris where the audience travels around our property to various experiences, where storytellers are in trees and dancers are in fields. … We’re also well equipped to think outside the box. We’ll be looking for ways to bring people together to feel the immediacy of that human connection but it may be in ways unlike anything we’ve seen before.”

Though many patrons and artists understood the need to shut down this season, some were apprehensive. Huotari said if COVID-19 and all the restrictions associated with it dissipate soon, the theater is in a position to act.

“We’re small and we’re nimble,” she said. “If things do change and we do see opportunity in the coming months, we’ll be able to respond to that really quickly. I’d love to think that there’s a chance we’ll be able to get audiences in the barn this year, but it’s going to take a rapidly improving global condition for that to be possible.”

Until the global situation reaches relative normalcy, the barn is going to need some help. After announcing the cancellation, Huotari said PayPal donations started coming in within minutes. “If any folks are in a position to make a contribution … we would be most grateful for gifts now, as they matter more than ever,” she said.

For now, though, the focus has to be on coming strong in 2021.“Our No. 1 priority is securing the future of the Celebration Barn. And all eyes are on 2021, and what we have to do to come back with a full season,” she said.

You can visit their website to make a Donation!

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Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Show Comedy Dixon Place Juggling Magic Music Performing Arts Physical Theater Women

Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Show – Quarantine Edition – April 13, 2020

The second week of The Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Show – Quarantine Edition was so much fun. Now we get to see all this great talent every Monday instead of waiting for a whole month. Of course, I miss the LIVE performance at Dixon Place but in the meantime, this is so special! Screengrabs are certainly not a good replacement for good quality camera files but we have to live with what we have at the moment. Here goes week #2!

Keith Nelson opened the show with his ‘Chinese yoyo‘ act. Here is the wonderful top spinning meditation. How long could you look at a top spinning?

Book Kennison juggled with a ceiling secured camera so the viewers had a curious angle to view his juggling routine. Original music and unique viewing angle.

Filling in for another act Michael Rosman performs a rather complicated stunt. Lighting a gasoline-soaked marshmallow that’s sitting on his shoe with his flaming ukelele and then kicking the marshmallow up to be caught by the Nutella spread on a graham cracker he is holding in his mouth. It all worked out well! Thanks for that Michael!

Tyler West is one of my favorite performers. He always gives his show 100% no matter what. Tonight he performed a ‘pantomime’ with an Eric Satie soundtrack. It was surreal and lovely. Great skills mixed with emotion and joy.

Cardone performed a wonderful array of great card manipulations. A master card trick magician (among other great magic skills) and ventriloquist.

Rachel Hipszer balanced on her hands (did an amazing one-arm planche) and many other amazingly beautiful acrobatic skills.

Keith Nelson never stops amazing me with all of his skills. Always learning new routines and doing them so wonderfully. Here he balances 4 delicate glasses on a 3 layer pyramid.

Pinch and Squeal (Jason and Danielle Tilk) performed a lovely duet singing and playing the banjolele (cross between a ukulele and banjo) and accordion.

Paprika Leaverton performed some lovely hat tricks and magic for the viewers.

Coney Island Chris (Chris Alison) stunned the viewers with his strange ‘eating glass’ stunt. Chewing on a GE light bulb and swallowing the glass particles was both strange and funny. He claims to have learned his skills in a ‘How-to internet Sideshow course’.

The entire production of The Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Show – Quarantine Edition depends on donations from the fans viewing the show. Here are the methods you can use to help make this wonderful tradition continue weekly during this quarantined time!

If YOU want to participate as a PERFORMER in this show contact Keith at the email address above. Always open to new acts from all over the world!

Elizabeth Munn performed a hysterical romp singing and dancing in her narrow hallway. Performing upside down on a chinning bar and all the time keeping up her song.

Here is Elizabeth in the last moments of her song!

Thanks to all of the folks that made this wonderful show possible!


Next Monday at 7:30pm! The show must go on no matter what!

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Circus Juggling Performing Arts Southern Sideshow Hootenanny Variety Arts Vaudeville Vaudevisuals Interview Writer

Vaudevisuals interview with Thom Wall – Publisher – Modern Vaudeville Press

During my 4 days documenting the Southern Sideshow Hootenanny in New Orleans in early March, I sat down with juggler Thom Wall (who performed at the Festival in the All-Star and Living Legends Show) and he talked about his niche publishing company Modern Vaudeville Press.

All the titles can be purchased at the website Modern Vaudeville Press

Juggling from Antiquity to the Middle Ages by Thom Wall

How to Become a Juggler by Rupert Ingalese

Body Talk – Basic Mime by Mano Diamond

More titles are in the works.

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Burlesque Cafe Istanbul Circus Comedy Juggling Magic Performing Arts Photography Sideshow Southern Sideshow Hootenanny Tattoo Women

6th Annual Southern Sideshow Hootenanny – New Orleans

March 6-8th, 2020 – New Orleans – Cafe Istanbul

A visual survey of the 6th Annual Southern Sideshow Hootenanny. Part 1 of 3.

Monsters of Schlock hosted the ‘Sideshow Innovators’ Show – Friday, March 6th, 2020.

Jezzibel performs the infamous ‘blockhead’ act with an ice pick.

Jezzibel performs a ‘spark’ spectacular finale.

Lunival Lousion performs a wonderful hula-hoop act.

Betsy Propane entertains the audience with her lovely voice while escaping from her straight jacket.

Jared Janssen charmingly performed juggled with ‘live food’.

Betsy Ritz caught a tongue on her mousetrap while kneeling on the floor.

Dante fooled the audience with his charming magic act.

Salem added a touch of the bizarre with the outfit and magical offerings.

Salem combined the ‘blockhead’ act with the seductive.

Chatty the Mime performed silently combining the chair with mimetic skills.

Nathan McScary dazed the audience with his single-handed knot tying tricks.

Emma D’Lemma performed many skills including walking on bottles.

Sweet Pepper Klopek has his tongue caught in a mousetrap set off by his partner

The Monsters of Schlock finish off the evening’s festivities. Sweet Pepper prepares to slam the cinderblock with a sledgehammer on his partner’s groin. But first a gentlemanly hand butt.

This is the first of 3 separate shows that I documented at The Southern Sideshow Hootenanny. Check back in the next few days for photographs of the other two shows. The All-Star and Living Legends Show (Sat night) – Troupe Night(Sunday show.)

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Juggling Performing Arts Sideshow Street Performing Variety Arts Vaudevisuals Interview

Vaudevisuals interview with Nathan Wakefield – juggler

My 4 days in New Orleans were very productive. I photographed the Southern Sideshow Hootenanny (all 3 shows) and did several wonderful interviews with performers attending/performing at the Hoot. This interview is with juggler Nathan Wakefield from Michigan. His act was with cigar boxes and clever knot tying with one hand. He is currently researching and writing the definitive book on Sideshow ‘Geek’ acts throughout history. Check out the interview!

Nathan performing his knot tying routine at the Southern Sideshow Hootenanny.

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American Circus Juggling Vaudevisuals Interview

Vaudevisuals interview with Tatiana Vasilenko – Cirque Mechanics

Cirque Mechanics’ juggler Tatiana Vasilenko

TICKETS/MORE INFORMATION

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American Circus Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Show Clown Comedy Dance Dixon Place Juggling Magic Photography

Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Revue – November 2019 – Dixon Place

The people that make this show possible are sometimes not known or seen.

One of them is Marcia Curran – Stage manager for the Bindlestiff Open Stage (and many other shows)

Here she is with Yoyo master Justin Weber before the show.

Also, one of the vital people that makes Dixon Place work is Mike!

Mike Griffiths is one of the people that makes Dixon Place tick like a well-oiled clock. His official title is “Marketing & Audience Development Associate”. You know he works hard at that!  Along with Production manager Rob Lariviere who makes all the shows look and sound great!

There are quite a few other people you should know. Check them out here.

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Bindlestiff Open Stage master of ceremonies Keith Nelson starts the show-off.

Keith gets the show going with his ‘Chinese yoyo’ act.

The acrobatic duo Aryn Shelander and Jeffrey Stilt were amazing in their skills.

They were accompanied by two lovely violinists ~ Irene Fong and Melissa Tong

In between the acts, Keith entertains the audience with his favorite past time.

Rich Potter brought his ‘ghoulish’ Zach Flash character to juggle for the audience.

The lucky audience volunteer got to give Zach (Rich Potter) a smooch.

In keeping with tradition, Keith got to try out a new juggling routine with a flying bat.

The lovely Lauren Elizabeth performed a ‘staff’ act.

Great skills mixed with costume and makeup made this act wonderful.

Jeff Moche performed some amazing mentalist magic tricks using audience volunteers.

The card tricks were very mind-blowing and intelligently challenging to the audience.

Keith practices putting out a match with his whip cracking.

Lisa and Julian danced up a storm for the audience.

Magic Brian performed 2 charming audience volunteer mentalist tricks.

Standing back to back he drew almost exactly with the audience volunteer drew.

Yoyo master Justin Weber made his yoyos doing amazing things.

His finale was to jump rope using his yoyo.

The first Monday of every month at Dixon Place – Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Revue!

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Aerial Acts American Circus Circus Comedy Juggling Music Performing Arts Photography The Connelly Theater Variety Arts Video

Bindlestiff’s “brooklyn abridged” show at The Connelly Theater

Bindlestiff’s own Keith Nelson begins the wonderful show!

Ermiyas Muluken (from Ethopia) performs his amazing ‘ladder act’.

The multi-talented Cassady Rose Bonjo performed her ‘hula-hoop’ act.

Flying high above the stage was the remarkable Kenneth Stephen Neil.

Bringing the audience back to the sideshow Keith Nelson performs ‘blockhead’.

What goes into the head must come out. Keith removes the nail from his skull

Angela Buccinni and Yoni Kallal perform their wonderful acrobatic duo act.

Esther de Monteflores manipulates the cigar boxes with finese.

Cassady Rose Bonjo performs another of her many skills.

Esther de Monteflores performs a lovely and very unique slack wire act.

Ermiyas Muluken performs a ‘wild’ high rolla bolla act.

Curtain call for all the incredible performers at the ‘brooklyn abridged’ show.

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Composer/Music Director – Sxip Shirey

Audio Design – Kris Anton

Band – Sxip Shirey and Nathan Repasz

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For more information/tickets!

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Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Show Circus Comedy Juggling Magic Performing Arts Photography Sideshow Variety Arts

Bindlestiff Open Stage ~ Mirror Tent at Big Apple Circus ~ 1/7/2019

Guest Photographer/Blogger Maike Schulz

On this special The Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Revue was hosted at the Mirror Tent at Lincoln Center on January 7th. It was an amazing lineup of great acts. I am posting the work of photographer Maike Schulz who has specialized in shooting circus worldwide for many years. Her work is stunning!

Bindlestiff Co-founder Keith Nelson hosted this wonderful evening of variety arts.

Opening the show with his ‘Chinese YoYo’ act was Keith Nelson.

One of my favorite acts is A.J.Silver who performs a great lasso and whip cracking act.

TruDe was next to shake up the audience with her hysterical comedy dancing and cavorting.

Yoyo master Justin Weber does the most amazing moves with his Yoyo and Diablo.

Magic Mike made a ‘rare’ appearance performing his ‘classic’ type magic tricks(schtick).

Butch and Buttercup (Angela Butch and Yoni Kallai) performed an amazing acrobatic duo.

Keith performs many ‘sideshow’ stunts and this Kendama Blockhead is one of them.

After intermission the suave and handsome Wilfredo took the stage to entertain.

The comedy/juggling brother duo Collin and Shane Miclon added more humor and skill to the night’s festivities.

Zero Boy added his own brand of ‘audio gymnastics’ to the evening.

The final act for the night was the traditional vaudeville 8 plate spin by Keith Nelson.

You can see more of Maike’s wonderful photography at her website or in the upcoming Limited Edition Rob Torres Tribute book which you can check out here.

The Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Revue happens every first MONDAY of the month at Dixon Place!

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Bouffon Burlesque Clown Comedy Coney Island USA Juggling Performing Arts Photography Sideshow Street Performing Tattoo

Roc Roc-It, the Clown Prince of Berlin

Roc Roc-It makes carny gold out of everyday objects. Grinning like a roly-poly overgrown tattooed child, he ambles onstage declaring, “This is the most dangerous stunt ever!” Then he reaches into a black drawstring bag and pulls out an ordinary disposable latex glove.

Making a big hoopla over stretching the glove out, he finally manages to distend the cuff over the top half of his face. Then he proceeds to huff and puff, inflating the glove on his head until it resembles a bloated coxcomb or a balloon mohawk. The audience laughs at the ridiculous sight of a potbellied man wearing a blown up glove on his head, but as the glove gets larger and larger, the laughter turns to cringes and cries of protest. Roc-It jacks up the mounting anticipation with goofy pratfalls and sideshow banter until the glove finally bursts all over his face.

With ingeniously simple acts like these, Roc-It has earned the monicker Clown Prince of Berlin. He has indeed lived in Berlin for about ten years – in a caravan outside a squat in an industrial part of Kreuzberg – but Roc-It was actually born in a small town near the Black Forest. “I’m a country boy,” he says with a wide smile that reveals several missing teeth. After several failed apprenticeships, he finally found his calling on a trip to Barcelona. “I saw all these street performers working on the Rambla,” he recalled, “and I was like, yeah, wow, that’s what I want to do.”

Sleeping on the beach and practicing everyday, he built up skills in Diabolo and fire. He learned to hammer a nail up his nose and juggle balls. Then after five years performing throughout Europe, he found himself in New Orleans breaking up with an ex-girlfriend. “I had two weeks left on my visa,” he said, “and I thought, fuck it, I’m going to go and visit some friends in New York.”

It was on his very last day in New York that he made a fateful visit to Coney Island with no other desire than to do a final show on the beach. “I knew nothing about what a sideshow is,” he said, “My friends were jugglers, guys riding a toy unicycle, doing all this classical stuff, and my show was always a bit weirder. And I was always a bit weirder character. So for me, it was basically, like, okay, there’s the main show and I’m the sideshow.”

With that in mind, he put his kit an old green suitcase and painted the words CIRCUS SIDESHOW on it. He was carrying the suitcase when he strolled past Coney Island Circus Sideshow and caught the attention of impresario Dick Zigun, who invited him to perform. Roc-It was a hit and stayed on for the next three years. “They fired the midget,” he laughs.

“While I was in New York, I did a thousand shows a year,” he estimates, but his visa had run out and living illegally finally wore him down. “I was working so much and so intensively, I got injured quite a lot,” he remembers, “I knocked my teeth out. I broke several ribs on stage. I burned my face off. And at one point, it just got to be like, it’s too much.”

Since returning to Europe six years ago, he continues to wow crowds in burlesque shows and street festivals. Twice a year, he performs with Kabaret Kalashnikov, a variety show with an Eastern European storyline. On summer nights, you can find him in the middle of a circle of people at Alexanderplatz during Berlin Lacht Fest. He also regularly performs with the Squidling Brothers Circus Sideshow when they are in Europe.


“Dazzle them with brilliance or baffle them with bullshit,” he declares, rolling up his sleeve to display a motto tattooed on his arm, “Either it has to be really poetic or just so ridiculous, that it’s just as good.”

Roc Roc-it at Baum Haus Comedy Open Air 
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