An article about Circus and Spectacles by Maddie Gressel, published in Time Out Hong Kong on March 14, 2012:
Imagine you’re in a performance theatre. To your left, a violist plays a series of notoriously difficult Paganini pieces… while suspended in mid-air. To your right, a fire-breathing juggler furiously throws his balls in the air. Crashing towards you, a ‘technological monster specimen’ wearing a leotard covered in interconnected iPods. Then a dog barks. And, suddenly, an upright piano falls from the sky. It’s chaos.
Who could possibly create such a stunningly surreal scene but Samson Young, Hong Kong’s most prolific multimedia artist? His newest performance piece, Circus & Spectacles, is a multi-layered collaboration with two friends and former collaborators, the German ‘performance technologist’ Chris Ziegler, creator and operator of an iPod-covered-and-operated bodysuit system, and the violist virtuoso William Lane, who will spend the performance precariously suspended from the ceiling.
Young is shifty when discussing the act because he’s firmly committed to maintaining the element of surprise. But the glimpses he does afford into the clockwork of the spectacle are enticing and slightly bemusing. The team refers to the performance as a ‘musical-technological-mechanical spectacle’, which seems to be a pretty literal description of what we can, and should, expect. Young warns audiences about what they might see: “The tone is really ridiculous. A lot of nonsensical things will happen in that theatre. There will be constant visual and sonic stimuli but this constant bombardment is a way to get you to think about certain things.”
... “The essential question is: can we stage the failure of performance with some actual satisfaction on the audience’s part? Like in the circus, when a clown slips and everyone laughs! These moments are genuinely very gratifying. If I’m asking about the body at work and about the relationship between virtuosity and failure, then the circus is really the perfect metaphor.”
Collaborators: Directed and performed by Samson Young. Chris Ziegler (Performance Technologist, Dancer), William Lane (Viola), Zani (Acrobatics, Physical Theatre). Commissioned by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department of Hong Kong, presented by Contemporary Musiking.