Imagine a time when you were young. It’s pouring rain outside and you and your friends build a big blanket fort to escape from the storm, tell stories and come together. Now, imagine you have an entire renovated church to transform into a blanket fort and to make that a modern reality. That’s the basic premise of a new pop-up circus show premiering Oct. 6 and 7.
The true identity of the new “Brave Space” show is more complex, stemming from the personal experiences of artistic director of Aloft Circus Arts (3324 W Wrightwood Ave.), Shayna Swanson, and the emergence of the #MeToo movement. Swanson was determined to create a space for attendees to overcome fears and envision a world of mesmerizing acrobatics and wonderment.
“Brave Space evolved from a personal experience I had with sexual assault as a young woman,” said Swanson. “I wanted to make a show that finally addressed the way I dealt with the aftermath of that, which never felt right to me.
“Now, these same things are happening every day with the #MeToo movement. So, I wanted to make a show about that. But actually, the show didn’t end up being about that at all! In fact, it’s sort of become the anthesis to that idea,” she said.
The name of the event, “Brave Space,” is also rooted in the notion of overcoming these experiences.
“‘Safe space’ is a term that a lot of people throw around to make themselves feel comfortable when they maybe shouldn’t feel comfortable. What people should be striving to be is brave, not safe,” said Swanson. “In this show, we will ask you to be brave. We will ask you to physically put yourself in a spot that might be scary for you. We will ask you to hold a rope that is holding a person in the air, and you better not let go… that stranger is counting on you. We are trying to create a physical metaphor for emotional bravery.”
The event’s purposefully small space, designed to resemble a blanket fort on the grandest scale, lets audience members feel up close and personal with the performers and even get involved in some of the unique acts, including trapeze acts, acrobatics, a cyr wheel, juggling, and more. Each performance has a strict 100 person limit to accommodate the intimate event space. The show itself is meant to play visual tricks that distort the audience’s sense of time and space.
The blanket fort took nearly a full year to complete and was designed by artist Angela Eve and sewn and assembled by Erin Doll. Most of the performers in this show are Logan Square locals, and five of the seven performers are recent graduates of the Aloft Circus Arts program and have been training for nearly two years.
“Brave Space” takes place this weekend at the Aloft Circus Arts studio and tickets are available for purchase here.
Want a sneak peak at what to expect at the show? Take a look at some of the photos from the “Brave Space” rehearsals below.
Photos: Erin Brown
Featured photo: Brian P. Dailey practices juggling for the Brave Space shows.