Thoughts from Slim Chance
The worst times are always the best times to do what we do! This is when the performers belief and faith in their craft is at its greatest because it has to be.
Performing on a stage or a ring or even a hall comes with their own stresses, but the space has already been created to make a magical environment. The sight, smell and feel is generally familiar. The audience is there because they want to be there!
At a refugee shelter in Tijuana it is up to the 8 performers to imagine where the stage is. A pipe and drape backdrop with an image of a colorful circus tent which we would strategically place in front of the garbage pile: or the floor drain, or piles of cushions and bedding, or the laundry hanging. Our first concern is the audience being as comfortable as possible and they take whatever shade is available. The stage is: the dirt, a concrete floor, gravel, sand, the chapel, the playground, the parking lot, the roof in the full sun, where janitors pour hundreds of gallons of dirty mop water on the ground of the floor on the other side of the curtain.
For an hour, anything is possible on the stage: dancing around and doing acrobatics on a soap slick floor, riding a tall unicycle in the dirt, juggling while you are staring into the sun, standing on your hands in gravel -with a broom balanced on your neck while the wind tries to blow it away-, when the audience volunteer is too good at their job.
Smiling at young eyes that have seen unspeakable horrors, that have left everything they know behind them, light up with surprise and delight as a ball of magic is caught in a balloon or squeezed out a clowns nose. To see joy and hear laughter that can only come from someone who hasn’t had a good laugh in awhile. Seeing those smiles makes you a believer in that world you created for an hour: in an orphanage, a sanctuary village, a safehouse, an elder care home, a home for children with HIV.
This is not a festival, not a fair, not the theater, not a destination, not a place you end up when all other options are exhausted. This is all they have!
So we set the stage and create a world that belongs to everyone for an hour.