Some words from our director, upon officially wrapping up a year of circus dinner theater.

Buster Keaton once said that “the audience loves the slow thinker.”

If that’s so, I’m clearly lovable.

I say this not out of ego, but because something significant just occurred to me while sitting here working on all the to-do list items that go along with tearing down a year of circus dinner theater.

Most of my life is lived a bit like a freight train. The fervor to work on the next exciting thing often means missing out on taking a moment to acknowledge the important milestones.

I arguably love the work more than I love getting recognized for doing it, so for me living at this pace and passion level simply makes sense.

As I sit here paused for a moment, elbows and ankles deep in post-show paperwork, tech and to-do list items, I finally understood why people asking me, “Well, what next?” (in regards to my post-Salmagundi plans) was hitting me in such a weird way.

This moment doesn’t just mark the end of a year of work. It actually marks the end of a continuous cycle of creativity, development and production that’s lasted about *five* years.

And that is the staggering realization where I finally caught up to the elephant in the room.

Back in 2011, a plucky band of idiots and I jumped head first into a new challenge: The creation and running of a weekly variety show of dubious and cultish reputation. The beast grew weird and mighty, eventually having launched, featured and honed thousands of acts.

The 800 lb gorilla in question ran full speed for about four-and-a-half years, until I made the difficult decision to find out what it was like to properly finish a thing rather than just letting it end.*

*Emotionally charged, but highly recommended. It taught me how to make difficult speeches, say goodbye with grace and write a proper finale.

While creating the weekly dose of weirdness that became a typical Monday night, we unfathomably built an ensemble which I am further unfathomably privileged to direct.

This team, largely out of necessity, became very good at creating theater with a near-military efficiency. Eventually we grew bold enough to stick our toes outside our safety net, and quickly found ourselves working on multiple theater projects simultaneously.

Which, by way of two narrative physical theater projects, countless hours in workshop as both student and teacher, enough ‘gigs’ to eek out money for ramen, and the circus dinner theater project we just wrapped, brings us back to now…and my finally getting perspective on the question of, “What next?”

After all, from the outside looking in it’s the first time we’ve so much as paused in half a decade.

To put the matter to rest: Relax. The view inside my head looks quite different than your worries.*

*I may have written this entire diatribe just to use this sentence in context. šŸ˜‰

To be honest, I genuinely thought I might take a vacation once the dust settled on Salmagundi. Instead, I find myself doing even more of what I love to do…creating weird acts of theater and moments of professional-grade whimsy with my friends.

While I can’t share everything on the Circus Freaks development board just yet, rest assured it is currently nurturing the seeds of more than a half dozen new projects. We’re also scheduled to be appearing at a string of public events. Keep an eye here for announcements as they happen.

The break in routine does mean I get my version of me time: I’m once again an old dog learning new tricks. In truth, all of our performers have been leveling up lately…I suspect I’m just trying to keep up.

Along those lines, I applied for a writing intensive this summer with Spymonkey, and was accepted. I’m excited to both learn from these masters, and return to the performer’s holy land that is the Celebration Barn Theater.

In short, this moment isn’t a break in anything but rhythm. If you’re still worried, please consider the moment an intermission and grab something from the snack bar.

Russ Sharek
Director, Circus Freaks

P.S. – If you’ve been interested in collaborating, now is great time to reach out!



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