Portland, Maine circus performer Janoah Bailin comes to the Halifax Fringe with meSSeS: Solo circuS. Part workshop, part performance, audiences will learn how to juggle while they watch the show.
This show reminds us to play physically in a world increasingly digital.
We learn more in this Q&A with Janoah.
This interview has been edited.
Tell us about meSSeS. What can audiences expect?
meSSeS is an optionally participatory circus in which you learn to juggle while you watch. As you enter, you receive three colourful juggling scarves, and there are three short breaks in the performance during which you can practice your new skill. But don’t worry. If juggling is not your thing, there’s so much more. I perform surprising, funny, gorgeous acts of juggling, unicycle, balance, dance, puppetry, storytelling and performance art, all tied together through an exploration of metaphor for all ages.
What inspired meSSeS?
I built this show slowly, act by act. First, I had one involving tea, then one with coffee, and soon a plethora of circus acts featuring food. As I put all the pieces together, I wanted a show in which the audience takes something tangible away. As a circus teacher and performer, I hoped to blend the two. I’d noticed that my students only paid attention if I gave them a show. And I wanted a circus with content that held meaning.
Why this particular show now?
Connection. As we emerge from the disconnecting experience of the pandemic, this show can connect us in so many ways. Laughing together, no matter the age, is essential, as is learning together. After I teach each segment, I step back, and the audience learns together for a few minutes, watching each other and asking each other questions. This show reminds us to play physically in a world increasingly digital.
What do you hope audiences leave meSSeS talking about?
I hope audiences leave chatting about the images I created on stage, what they looked like and what they might mean. I hope they leave thinking about the roles metaphors and stories play in our languages and our lives.
Why should someone come to see meSSeS?
The show balances learning, laughter, beauty, meaning and play. You may participate or sit back and enjoy. Plus, there’s popcorn!
The Halifax Fringe Festival returns from August 31 through September 10, with more than 60 productions taking place at venues across the city.