Circo Nacional de Puerto Rico performed in Chicago’s Humboldt Park July 6th and 7th, playing to both the English and Spanish speaking audience with their farcical show SOS, a Summer Clown Cruise. As the show began, a live orchestra lured the cast on to the grass where the scene was set. We were all given to understand that we were on a defunct cruise ship and that the cruise director was doing her best to entertain us. It was a pretty good premise, and lots of acts and skits sprouted from it gracefully, such as the nomination of the 4 new council members (chosen from volunteers in the audience by clown staff) who were led on a wild rumpus once the yoga teacher clown swore them in. In the midst of all that fun, there was the usual juggling, acrobatics and tight rope walking, but all with a storyline, no matter how tenuous, which made it work as a whole. This show was an interesting mix of French contemporary circus combined with the collaborative American perspective of the theater collective, Theater Oobleck.
The Circo Nacional group has solid foundations in circus and theater with the air of a troupe of well-acquainted Renaissance fair street performers. Although their crew and props are few and simple, their self-proclaimed goal is to create a circus with a Puerto Rican identity with international quality. It might take a few years of networking and touring to get there on the latter goal, but on the first goal they can claim complete success, having wowed the Chicago Puerto Rican crowd with their comedy and clownish charms.
If my translation skills are any good, they have a few more stops on their tour in Detroit, Montreal and Vermont this summer. To find out more about Circo Nacional de Puerto Rico, visit them on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, check out the good works of Theater Oobleck, a collaborative theater company who brings original productions to Chicago communities at little or no cost.