One of my earliest and happiest memories as a child in London was our annual visit to the Cirque Imaginaire, or “imaginary circus.”
Not really a circus so much as a fanciful show of acrobatics and illusion, it was breathtaking and magical.
Those of you who have been coming to the A.R.T. for many years will remember that the Cirque Imaginaire performed here too. It was created by Victoria Chaplin and her husband Jean-Baptiste Thiérrée – she an impossibly graceful trapeze artist and dancer, he a pokerfaced clown who specialized in a deceptive innocence. Their children, Aurélia and James, often performed with them –I particularly remember their cameo appearance as two miniature walking umbrellas, trotting after their parents as they loped across the stage.
Now Aurélia and James have grown up, and each has shows of their own. Aurélia’s Oratorio was developed for Aurélia by her mother, and it is born from the same world of magic and fantasy as the Cirque Imaginaire. A graceful and surreal assembly of puppets, illusion, clowning, and virtuosity, the show brings back all my childhood excitement, and I’m so happy that we can introduce it to a new generation of young theatergoers. But Aurêlia’s Oratorio is not just for kids – adult children will also love it for its elegance and beauty. We’re presenting it between Christmas and New Year’s, and I can’t imagine a better holiday outing for the whole family.
Incidentally, Aurélia comes from an impressive pedigree as a performer – her grandfather was Charlie Chaplin and her great-grandfather was Eugene O’Neill!