Meaghan Muller, former featured artist from Cirque du Soleil, has taken her focus out of the spotlight and into the dynamics of what happens behind the performance. NoNet: The Backside of the Tent, will present audience members with a rare glimpse into the struggles, triumphs and blend of creative forces that make the backbone of a production. Daring to show the vulnerability of a medium through that very medium itself, Muller has asked herself and other internationally revered performers to participate in an artistic confessional of sorts. This week BANG! asked Muller a few questions about this process of being brave.
BANG! You’ve stated before that this project has been on your mind for years. What made this point in time an appropriate one to make the performance happen?
Meaghan Muller Many personal things made the timing more appropriate now than in the past. Completing my Master’s degree was probably the biggest hindrance but also finding the right people to be in the show and the right setting were crucial.
BANG! Is the spontaneity associated with the very short amount of “crunch time” you and the performers have intentional?
Meaghan Muller I think both the spontaneity and limited time to rehearse are directly linked. Obviously casting distance and finances are two major aspects of why we are developing the type of show that we are proposing. But it is also something that we are creating in order to develop a different side of a traditional circus theatre show, such as when you watch large-scale, large budget productions. The theme of the show and the landscape of the show invite such spontaneity.
In our minds, what would life be if it not spontaneous, right? Our job and goal is to embrace the “life of the circus” away from what is seen on the everyday stage; and so too many rehearsals would no longer be “living” but more performing.
BANG! NoNet, thought of as a “confessional” of sorts, aims to remove some of the façade surrounding the performers to reveal their more vulnerable parts through performance. What is the process in expressing the vulnerability behind the distinctions of a medium through that very medium itself?
Meaghan Muller Good question. I believe that is something that we will discover once the cast is together; however, many of us believe that in reality artists tend to choose their medium type because it provides them a place to express their inner selves—a landscape where they do not have to shy away from their vulnerable selves as well as a place that overrides some of their insecurities. Circus artists are no different. Each medium, or apparatus, one chooses represents something more than just “I like this act and I am good at it”. It tends to resonate with the person on a deeper level which in turn makes the act that much better, that much more artistic, and that much more personal. For instance, many times I feel that I did not choose the aerial hoop (cerceau). Although it is probably my strongest apparatus, it makes me feel quite ill while on it and it really truly hurts the body. But, when I touch the hoop it feels like home. Of course it combines all of my past athletic and artistic endeavors into one place (artist gymnastics bars, rhythmic gymnastics hoop, and of course dance); but when I really look at it, it is my creativity that comes alive and that creativity stems from my instinct and my heart rather than my head.
BANG! Many people fear being vulnerable. From what place do you hope the contributors to NoNet express themselves?
Meaghan Muller This is something that we will need to figure out quite quickly and has already begun being addressed. Of course being vulnerable is never fun or something we look forward to but in order for this show to be a true success, we need to strip ourselves away from the normal performance façade we are all so comfortable slipping into. Although I do not believe we will be able to truly undress ourselves from our performance selves, I do hope the cast can allow us to see their true selves—the ones who laugh, make mistakes, get flustered, become frustrated, etc.
Circus arts might be seen as super-human but circus artists are not and that is what needs to be addressed during the show.
BANG! Because NoNet is centered on a “behind the tent” kind of accessibility, what role does the audience play?
Meaghan Muller The audience plays a major role but in a fourth dimension kind-of-way. No they will not be traveling with us or become part of our troupe; but we will address them and have them a part of the show. They exist and we know it. Without them there is no reason for us to be there.
BANG! How does one remove their sense of self in a performance while portraying who they really are?
Meaghan Muller I personally don’t think you can remove a sense of self while simultaneously portraying who you are. And I am not sure that is what we are searching for. Again we are inviting the audience to see us, the people behind the circus arts and behind the façade of lights, big costumes, and large productions.
BANG! Do you have plans for another NoNet in the future?
Meaghan Muller My basic answer right now is No. This show was created for Goodson Yard and it would be hard to replicate it outside of Atlanta. But I am not sure that it means we will not be able to bring the same concept and same cast somewhere else if asked. Perhaps it is my own insecurities but I truly just want to make NoNet a focus for a weekend hit vs. forcing into something that it was not originally planned to be. If it becomes more than what I initially anticipated, then I guess I will embrace that fortune and enjoy the ride.
BANG! When all is said and done, what would you like NoNet to have contributed to the people that participated in the production, and to the audience members?
Meaghan Muller For the cast: An opportunity to do something unique. All of us have been a part of big productions where you are doing the same thing day-in and day-out for over a year. We have also done those events where we just come in and perform our act and then leave. This show provides us an opportunity to do a bit of both but with more of a personal intimate take. And perhaps even they will learn something a bit more about themselves as individual artists and as creators. This is a one-of-kind experience for us too.
For the audience: Very simply, to experience the other side of what is seen on traditional big stages. To have an intimate perspective of both the difficult aspects of being in the circus and the great parts of being in the circus. But, and most of all, to enjoy a type of circus theatre style that is not traditionally seen in Atlanta. If the audience walks away with a sense of any emotion and connection to us, then we did our job. And that would be the greatest gift to all of us in the cast of NoNet.
Shows are November 8th-9th, with doors at 7:30. Tickets are $40 and all ages are welcome. For more information, click here.
Psst ... you can pre-purchase your tickets via their Indiegogo Campaign here: http://bit.ly/1cDmdcJ
(they are cheaper that way)