Over the last couple of months I have been working for the non-for-profit called CircusAid. I had decided to join the cause in January of this year. This organization provides refugees relief overseas by using social and occupational circus therapy.
I was excited and determined to hop onto this project, not only would I be able to use my skill sets to help others, but I would be able to learn about a part of the world that I knew nothing about, and I would be able to learn about people and their situation as well as listen to experiences and share the healing power of play.
Because this organization is a non-for-profit my efforts are to be considered volunteered, so I fronted to the organization $1,585 to date of the $2,000 they require for one to participate in the program. I also payed for my travel expenses into Europe and I'll be paying for my own food and additive needs while staying in Greece.
Although I fronted much of the money required to participate in this project, the non for profit requested that I make a gofundme page in the amount of $5000. All of the funds raised through this platform will go towards continuing the humanitarian effort of providing relief to those displaced by war.
Even though crowd funding is a productive and effective way of fundraising I felt the need to combine my performance and production skills to help present and inform people personally of the mission goals of CircusAid. I believe its very important for people who are not immediately affected by these scenarios to be well informed of the facts as well as the information surrounding the resettlement crisis.
I decided to create and produce a show with the rest of the NYC branch representing CircusAid this summer. I joined forces with two other participants to organize and run a benefit show. Our first show produced was a variety show and we had tons of variety. Burlesque, boylesque, Mimes, aerial artists, ventriloquists, magicians and more. Our promotional flyer is shown below.
Our second show we decided to get a little more creative and tend to a themed production. It was during the month of March so the theme we decided to pick was a lucky theme. We called the benefit show Give to Get Lucky.
In this show I tried to engage with the audience more often by adding trivia games, I made a giant four leaf clover piñata, we had raffle prizes and free drink tickets to give away. The piñata I created with the owner of Yoga Pole Studio. YPS is a proud sponsor of CircusAid, providing raffle prizes of free classes, and of course helping to produce and fill the piñata. The piñata is now permanently part of the show. I was actually very proud of my first ever homemade piñata.
The piñata was built out of recyclable cardboard, duck tape, hot glue and paper and we hung it from the aerial rig in Bizarre Bar.
Both the raffle tickets and piñata swings were sold for 1= $2, 3= $5, 7= $10, and a body wrap for the raffle tickets was $20 while the piñata swings were 15= $20. The piñata was filled up with streamers and bags of popcorn, chips, and small trinkets that were bought at the dollar store the day before.
Another fun give away at this show were a couple of real lamented four leaf clovers. I have a small quirk about myself during the spring, summer and fall months of the year, which is, I tend to find and collect four leaf clovers and then laminate them using notecards and scotch tape; all of this is in effort to give the clovers away to friends and strangers throughout the year.
People were pleasantly surprised to see and receive this fun and lucky give away. Hopefully the Irish legends are true and the little green gifts will bring tons of luck to those who received them that evening.
The next show was in April so our theme was Spring into Action. Because it was during the month of April we played the theme upon April showers bring may flowers and of course being artistic activists asking the audience to spring into action with us gave our catch phrase a nice edge to it.
Our flyer/poster was very magical and mystical thanks to one of my co-producers Vanessa Baskin, who will be joining me on this experience during the summer, and the performances that hit our stage reflected a fairy tale world in its self. We had a wide variety of performances that night from dark and edgy, to fairies and whimsical.
I personally performed the character Satan Mime, one because my good friend Tony, who is a makeup/prosthetic artist, had offered to give me professional horns that came out so amazing and second I was one of the dark and edgy performances that evening. To give a hint as to how edgy and dark it was, I was able to bring a coffin onstage and use it in collaboration with one of my very good friend who performed floating pole in the middle of the crowd.
Of course the best part of the show is always the piñata that we make for the audience to enjoy and smash. For this show we did a sugar skull piñata.
Our next and final fundraising show we called "Greece Lightning" an obvious play on words. The turn around for this show was much faster than the others because I had my flight booked out of the country mid May. So we had only 2.5 weeks to prepare for this particular show. My stress levels were high because I was also packing and prepping for my two and a half month journey overseas for humanitarian work.
I really enjoyed this show out of all the shows that we produced. We made it a superhero theme and based all of our works in relation to the greek gods. My specific mime character was Super Mime that night. It was so much fun flying around the audience and interacting in such a fun way.
I had made a piñata for this show that was a cloud with lightning coming out from underneath it. But it never got hung up because the crowd ended up buying all of our other game tickets, which for this show was pie throws at the mime.
This was definitely the best part of the show that evening for the audience members, they were having a blast and we oversold the tickets for these o had to go to the store to buy more whip cream to make an extra 20 pies to be thrown at me. One person bought 15 just for himself to throw.
This was definitely one of the most messiest game tickets that I have sold at an event. Yet it was just as fun for me as it was for the audience and I will certainly have this activity in my future shows.
Every show we had a live artist drawing the performances that happened on the stage. Adriano captured this intermission show perfectly of the mime performing this classic clown act of taking a pie to the face.
Lastly I performed with my good friend in a duet piece where I played piano and she performed on her floating pole center stage. It was such a fun collaboration and I left the mess of the games on myself for no other reason other than it was a silly thing to do. Plus it would have taken me too long to clean up before this performance so I didn't worry about how I looked for this piece.
Over all this benefit show had a stage run of 4 months and we raised about 1400 for all three of the producers to participate in the CircusAid program. It was a wonderful performance show that had multiple artists who volunteered their time and are both talented and artistically active in our community working towards making a difference in our world.
A big thank you to all who participated in this event as well as to Bizarre Bushwick for hosting our show on their stage. None of this would have ever been possible if not for everyone who was involved.
Stay tuned and look for my next blog posting here on Clownantics.com for my next adventures. I will record my travels and my humanitarian relief efforts overseas and in Greece this summer.