Circus Automatic : Performers You Should Know
The ‘Performer you should know series’ is about celebrating artists on stage. The wonderful, strange, and brilliant performers that light up our theaters, auditoriums, and sidewalks. The actors, singers, ballerinas, contortionists, dancers…the entertainers that make our city more interesting each night.
I was at an underground circus performance, off of a dimly lit street somewhere in the Excelsior District of San Francisco. I was there to interview a woman who specializes in shooting a bow and arrow with her feet. A contortionist with a penchant for Mongolian bows and brightly lit stages. Inka Siefker, the world renowned archer and world record holder is tall, graceful and walks with both confidence and vulnerability.
I love circus performers. You know right away that they are well traveled, have a story, and developed a sense of humor along the way. When I hear, “then I ran away to join the circus” it’s like music to my ears, you don’t hear it very often, but when you do you should stick around to see what’s next.
As I sit down with Inka Siefker to talk about archery and her recent tour of China, there’s a performance unfolding bellow us on stage. It’s full of talented strangers from all over the world, led by two lovely circus performers with obvious stage presence. In the vaudevillian tradition they entertain the crowd with banter, panache, then one of the hosts (Chloe Marvel Light Axelrod) jumps on a ring suspended in air, on which she spins, and spins, contorts, and smiles, never pausing for breath.
Her Co-host happens to be a Russian knife thrower (Olga Kosova), trained at 7 Fingers in Montreal, she asks the crowed if they’d like to see her do something she’s never tried before…moments later she’s suspended from the ceiling throwing steel knives at red balloons, laughing and cursing in Russian if she happens to miss her target.
I turn back to Inka who is glowing at her friends’ performances on stage, it’s a scene out of Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society, the space they built is something of a temporary autonomous zone, it’s creative, playful and genuinely free, it’s old school San Francisco. I ask Inka if her troop (Circus Automatic) are affiliated with the Circus School in Cole Valley. She shakes her head no. “That place is too strict…and it costs a lot of money”, she says, “our artists are free to do what they like here”. I smile and nod, priceless.
The troop makes it’s own costumes, props, decor and even lighting. They’re handy, like they could go on the road and set up a tent and trapeze without batting an eye. This October though, they are setting up in The Great Star Theater in San Francisco, for several nights of performances. Story telling, knife throwing, magic, contortion, comedy…and lots of other things. I asked their ring leader (yes ‘ringleader’ in this case is not a euphemism) named Fleeky Flanco about what to expect.
Raised By Wolves is part storytelling part circus show written by two nationally recognized orators (Jamie DeWolf and Joyce Lee). The theme is about how the challenges in life ultimately create you as a person. It’s going to be an adventure unfolded by world class circus performers. It’s going to evolve over several nights, and it’s going to be highly entertaining.
Checkout Raised By Wolves Starting October 15th and running thru the 30th