“Both the theater and the circus are places where imagination thrives, springs up and flies high,” says Ismail Azeem, coproducer with Lisa Marie Rollins of The Secret Circus, to be presented by The Marsh Berkeley on Wednesdays and Thursdays from Sept. 20 to Oct. 19. “So to take all kinds of artists and put them together under one tent—it’s genius and magic all at once.”
The tent is The Marsh’s theater in the Gaia Building just off Shattuck on Allston, where over 20 artists will collaborate in shows that will change weekly, to open “a futuristic window where solo theater, spoken word and live music join and implode.”
The producers envision a space where artists who’d otherwise never work together will collaborate on new creations, as well as challenge themselves to do something different.
This week, the first show of the series will feature poetry by James Cagney, “The Takeover” by Jasper (Jsun), Azeem’s “Rude Boy” and music by Soul Cat. In “Rude Boy,” directed by David Ford, Azeem plays Jamerican (Jamaican-American) Johnny Burke, in a struggle both comic and tragic that moves toward a shocking end. Azeem has performed the piece at New York’s Lincoln Center and The Redline in Chicago, as well as hip-hop festivals in the Bay Area.
Next week will feature EyeCue’s “Uncle Sam’s Dark Side”; a film short by Gene Hwang, “Kick Bush”; poetry by Gabriela Erandi Rico and Lisa Marie Rollins; “Don’t Let Go of the Potato” by Todd Lejeune (“a Cajun boy’s memoir of coming of age in a Louisiana bayou ... tipping over porta-potties and visiting the trailer of his true love”); “f-stop” by DJ Watson and Reg E. Gaines; and Soul Cat’s music.
Oct. 4 and 5 will see Julia Jackson’s “Turbulence” under the tent (“Introspection runs amok during a cross-country flight ... Sex, drugs, alcohol and movies are all fair game in this exploration of the nature of denial”)—with “Where My Girls Are At,” Micia Moseley’s comedic look at “the issues that connect and separate the myriad Black women’s communities in the Bay Area, and challenges the notion that there’s only one way to be Black or Queer in the 21st century.”
The fourth week of The Secret Circus will feature a film short by Norm Maxwell, “The Osiris Project”; Chela Simons’ “First Degree Codependency;” poetry by Augustin Palacios; and “Hard Evidence of Existence, A Black Gay Sex (& Love) Show,” based on the writings of Bay Area authors Ranekon O’Arwisters, Stewart Shaw and Zakee McGill as adapted and staged by Cedric Brown, performed by Dr. Marlon Bailey, Robert Hampton and Da’Mon Vann.
The Secret Circus folds its tent following the shows on Oct. 18-19, featuring coproducer Lisa Marie Rollins’ “Ungrateful Daughter,” a solo performance by James Cagney, a one-act by Agustin Palacios, and more music by Soul Cat.