Love Death Circus – Chapters 10 & 11

Chapter 10 Cancer is Easy Back in her office, Dr. Sands says, “We only have a few more minutes to…” Willa interrupts, “OK. Let me put this a different way. Breast cancer is a glamorous disease. All the ribbons and races, lots of services and support for us brave women fighting the good fight.” The doctor sits quietly, listening. She gives nothing away. “On the other hand, no one wants to hear about bipolar … Read More

Love Death Circus – Chapters 8 & 9

Chapter 8 A Hero’s Welcome “So there’s my mother sprawled out on the floor in her kitchen.” Frank Singer takes a sip of his Oolong tea to give his roommate Willa Woods time to visualize the scene. It had been a long night; now it’s late morning. Frank is rested enough to feel terrible about leaving Willa and Tina at the memorial show, but why apologize when you’ve got a good story to tell? … Read More

Love Death Circus – Chapters 6 & 7

Chapter 6 The Crazy Lady Zipporah (Zip) Abrams is killing it with her crazy old lady act. Frank Singer stands in the wings wearing a wet pink dress on his body and a big smile on his face. Zip and her old partner Bob Meadows were his favorite clown team and since Bob moved to New York a decade ago, Zip’s been the one. She read the phone book at Frank’s fortieth birthday party; … Read More

Love Death Circus – Chapter 5

Dead & Alive In the darkness, the rhythm section starts a slow, hypnotic version of Duke Ellington’s Caravan and a shaft of light appears center stage. As the trumpet comes in, two long red silks, aerial tissu, unfurl from the flies and hang in the shaft of light. Virginia Barre walks to the tissu and pulls the two strands apart. She stands center stage, a young woman with dark brown skin wearing a blue … Read More

Love Death Circus – Chapters 3 & 4

Chapter 3 Pippi Longstocking Willa Woods is hugging the porcelain goddess. Her stomach has long since run out of food to disgorge and her abdominal muscles ache from heaving. “Better than sit-ups,” she says to herself, and it’s true; her abs haven’t been this strong since a brief career as a trapeze artist ended with a nasty fall. That accident was in the exact same theater where she should be right now, setting light … Read More

Love Death Circus – Chapter 2

Quebec Calling Frank finds his phone at the bottom of the duffel bag. He flips it open, ignoring the gauzy pink cloud at his feet. “Hello?” “Bonjour. Am I speaking with Frank Singer?” Relief washes over him – it isn’t his mother. It isn’t Berit. He isn’t an orphan. “Yes, this is Frank.” “Mr. Frank Singer? Allo, my name is Angelique and I am calling from the Cirque du Soleil casting départment.” Someone from … Read More

Love Death Circus – Chapter 1

Early Morning in the Mission A huge pink dress lies over Frank Singer’s right shoulder. The hanger hook digs into the first two fingers of his right hand. It’s raining in San Francisco’s Sunny Mission and the theater is still three blocks away. Frank puts his head down and keeps walking. With every step, a small duffel bag full of juggling clubs bounces against his left hip. His regular clown costume, a plus-sized red … Read More

5 things I wish someone told me when I first became an author

Interview with Chaya Weiner As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeff Raz. Jeff Raz is an acclaimed author, playwright, stage director and performer (he has starred on Broadway and with Cirque du Soleil as well as a global communications consultant. His first book, The Secret Life of Clowns, was launched at the Smithsonian Institution in … Read More

Reactions – Juggling the Physical and the Emotional

In rehearsal last week, I worked with a brilliant clown on a seemingly simple move – getting her hand ‘stuck’ on a set piece when she tried to step away. “Make sure you do the reaction after the action, not before.” Duh, of course. But it is amazing how many times a clown trip or slap or other moment is ruined because the performer reacts before s/he acts. In clowning, there are two different … Read More

Winter Holidays – Time to Talk

We’re deep into the winter holidays, a time when helpful friends and social pundits are warning us to avoid talking about politics or religion or anything else that might devolve into an argument. Good advice, perhaps, but only talking about safe topics is like only eating mashed potatoes – boring and ultimately unhealthy. What if we could have respectful, exciting, joyful conversations about truly gnarly, nasty, stomach-knotting subjects? I know this is possible and … Read More

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