Physical vs. Virtual

Tara Bradbury
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Wonderbolt mounts largest show to date; a celebration of the physical world

One day not long ago, Beni Malone was sitting in a café in downtown St. John’s when he noticed something.

Acrobats perform “Fireworks,” as part of Wonderbolt Circus’ new show, “Bolt of the Blue,” which opens Oct. 11 at Holy Heart of Mary Theatre in St. John’s. — Submitted photos

The place was full of people, yet there was no sound of chatter. Instead, everyone was buried in their cell phones and iPads; some of them had both.

It struck Malone, founder and artistic director of Wonderbolt Circus, as an interesting theme for a show.

“I went ‘Wow, wow.’ We’re in a virtual world. It’s great, we love it, but we’re losing the physical world,” he said. “The physical world is very important and without the physical world, we don’t have anything to do in the virtual world. There’s a balance to be had. These devices are only a part of your world, not the whole bloody thing.”

It’s a simple theme to grasp, and a contemporary one; Malone and company had fun turning it into their biggest show ever, “Bolt Out of the Blue,” which will run Oct. 11-13 at Holy Heart Theatre.

Starring German clown Mirko Trierenberg, “Bolt Out of the Blue” opens in an office, with Trierenberg in his cubicle, stressed-out and piled to the ears with papers. He uses an app on his phone to transport him back to a cabaret world of the 1930s, where everything changes.

“At first, he’s a spectator and he’s looking on, and he sees acts getting ready,” Malone explained.

“Eventually, he’s drawn into the world by a waiter, who notices that he’s watching and brings him into the show. He becomes more and more part of the cabaret.”

Looking around, Trierenberg’s character notices the cabaret performers are actually people he works with; coworkers who, in the hectic real world techno-saturated rat race, are uninteresting to him.

“He gets more and more into it and his cube becomes a chandelier in the cabaret and there’s dancing and everything’s going great,” Malone said. “Inadvertently he knocks down the chandelier and it falls to pieces, and he has to solve that problem. He eventually gets it back into the ceiling, but it becomes a totally different shape, like a starburst. Now he really feels like he’s part of the cabaret, and things are working better than they ever worked in his office, that’s for sure.”

Trierenberg eventually ends up back in the real world, but this time his coworkers are a little less boring to him, and a little more colourful. Everyone is noticing each other for the first time, and seeing their colleagues in a different light.

It’s a scenario to which Trierenberg thinks everyone can relate, office job or not.

“The way I see it, sometimes we’re so preoccupied with work and the things we need to do that there’s no space for the human factor. Because we’re hating what we have to do, we’re hating everyone else,” he explained. “You always have, in any kind of work, the stress factor, and you have to remember what actually makes it worthwhile. Usually it’s the people you’re working with.”

Performers in “Bolt Out of the Blue” come from all over the world, from Wonderbolt’s regular local performers, like Jamie Brace and James Burke, to acrobats Pauliina Rassenen and Slava Volkov of Finland’s ArtTeatro, Cirque du Soleil’s Tanya Burke, and Kelly-Ann Evans, complete with live band Ouroboros, with the raw sound of four saxophones, drums and percussion, and nothing else. There are acts with silks, hoops, juggling, hand-to-hand acrobatics, dancing and a balancing/spinning/juggling act with the giant cube.

Malone said he’s got a special appreciation for that 1930s cabaret feel, and he’s hoping to bring the purity of circuses at that time to the stage.

“We’re going to try and transform Holy Heart Theatre in a way you’re not used to seeing it,” he said. “It’s going to be stripped back more and it’s going to seem bigger.”

Tickets for “Bolt Out of the Blue” are $38.50 for adults and $19.65 for children under 12, with discounts available for families and groups of four people and more. Tickets can be bought at the Holy Heart Theatre box office, by calling 579-4424 or online at

 Twitter: @tara_bradbury

Organizations: Holy Heart Theatre, Cirque du Soleil

Geographic location: Finland

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