The Cirkus Theatre Project, Author of "Descent" Tim Johnston, and Singer/Songwriter Johnathan Loos

The Cirkus Theatre Project, Author of "Descent" Tim Johnston, and Singer/Songwriter Johnathan Loos

1:03pm Jan 23, 2015

Cirkus Theatre Project

Nisshoku presents a young boy and his escape from the reality of his own broken home. He creates an imaginary world where he’s called upon to teach the sun and moon to co-exist in harmony before the earth is destroyed. Red Balloon draws from Japanese Noh theater in showing how an orphan boy rediscovers the beauty of childhood. Cirkus Theatre Project—the  unique collaboration between Cirque du Soleil and their longtime partner University of NC School of the Arts—is now in its fourth season. You see years ago Cirque first visited UNCSA’s campus and decided to use it for the site of their international design and production conference. Through that connection they learned what a unique place the school is with five highly specialized schools of art, and they realized that Cirque’s future depends on training highly qualified artists now.

So, to keep the Cirque du Soleil pipeline full of young talent, a few years ago, they approached UNCSA and set up the Cirkus Theatre Project. It allows students in all schools: dance, design & production, drama, filmmaking, music, and visual art, to explore their own ideas, and creative processes as a team. After passing through several rounds of auditions called Gateways, each of the all-student run productions go through 9 months of rehearsals, consultations, evaluations, and refinement before becoming ready to share their productions with the world. UNCSA School of Drama student, actor Alex Bodine, and UNCSA School of Dance alumnus, contemporary dancer Emily Chamberlin spoke with me about Cirkus Theatre Project. They were joined by UNCSA Director of Scenic Design, and Cirkus Project Director John Coyne. 

On Friday night, January 23rd at 10:30 PM you can see and hear exactly what we’ve been talking about on UNC-TV. The half-hour documentary “The Cirkus Theatre Project: Creativity and Collaboration at UNCSA” will air statewide highlighting the student teams who spent a good part of a year creating these fascinating and thought-provoking productions. 


Tim Johnston and Descent

Descent landed on Bethany's desk just after the holidays. The day it did, she had an e-mail from a friend asking if she had read it and telling her that Tim Johnston would be in Greensboro soon. The following morning NPR's Alan Cheuse said in his review that "Descent" made Gone Girl seem gimmicky, and he called it a thriller-plus. The positive reviews kept pouring in.    

Needless to say, the book had Bethany's attention, but what held her attention was Johnston's subtle storytelling, sensitive renderings, and captivating plot.

Descent is the story of the Courtland family following the abduction of 18-year old Caitlin. She and her younger brother Sean head into the Rocky Mountains during their vacation, and only Sean returns. Johnston captures all of the mundane and epic elements of love, loss, and hope in his novel. He spoke to Bethany from Iowa City, and she began by asking him about the inspiration for his first adult novel.
Johnston is also the author of the story collection Irish Girl, which David Sedaris selected as his favorite book of 2009, and the novel Never So Green. He's the winner of the O. Henry Prize, the New Letters Award for Writers, among others. Tim will be reading from Descent at Scuppernong Books in Greensboro on Monday, January 26th. The event begins at 7:00pm.    
Johnathan Loos

Guitarist and singer/songwriter Johnathan Loos has a new album out. Storm of Peace features infectious melodies, standout vocals, harmonies, and instrumental work, but these songs also showcase Johnathan’s wonderful use of language as he gets at young love, and loss, and navigating our way through life. Johnathan is a keen observer, a devoted journal writer, and he just seems to consistently find ways to encapsulate feelings, periods of time, and experiences, in a straight forward language and yet artistic form of expression that I think most of us can relate to. They’re often personal stories of discovery, but don’t expect this songwriter to pretend like he’s got the answers for you. For Johnathan Loos the journey continues. His new CD Storm of Peace is a nice place to sort of stop and sort of take stock. Jonathan spoke with me by phone from New York.

Johnathan is the next featured songwriter at The Evening Muse in Charlotte Monday night, January 26th


**The Weekend Wrap-up**

David: If you've never heard violinist Dmitry Sitkovetsky (one of the world's greatest), you need to, and here's an amazing opportunity. You can hear Dmitry and the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra play Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1, Ravel's Pavane for a Dead Princess, and more Friday, January 23rd and Saturday, January 24th at the Aycock Auditorium in Greensboro.  

Eddie: He will be checking out the Garage's Sunday line-up featuring rap collective and viral internet sensation Turquoise Jeep, along with Primovanhalen and Must Be the Holy Ghost. Doors open at 9pm, and you can get tickets here. He's also looking forward to seeing comedy legend Bobcat Goldthwait at Laughing Gas Comedy Club January 23rd and 24th at 8pm and 10pm.

Bethany: In early December, NPR issued an open call for submissions to the Tiny Desk Concert Contest. The Triad had an awesome showing, and the videos have been compiled on the Triad NPR Tiny Desk Concert Page. Check them out, and let us know your favorites!

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