Cirque Mechanics' Pedal Punk
and its bevy of bicycles have rolled onto our stage! We checked in with Creative Director Chris Lashua to find out a little bit about how the show was developed. If you haven't seen Pedal Punk
yet, take a look at this sneak peak of all the spinning things you'll see onstage, including the enormous Gantry—a 20-foot-high pedal-driven apparatus that frames the show's spectacular performances:
Like so many great ideas, every Cirque Mechanics production begins on the back of a napkin. Lashua starts by sketching an elaborate machine—a boiler-trolley, a trampoline-cart, a pedal-driven gantry—and a new show is born.
What exactly do you draw on the backs of napkins?
Yes, this really does happen, although we also draw on backs of receipts and business cards, too! Since inspiration can strike at any time, it really is important to capture ideas and concepts right away. I actually have several Southwest Airlines napkins with marker sketches of the first Gantry and our Trike Rover!
What was the inspiration for Pedal Punk?
We built the Gantry for an outdoor festival and knew right away we wanted to base our new show around it. We have always focused on showing off the relationships between our mechanical devices and the acrobats, and this device is our most ambitious apparatus so far.
What's your favorite part of developing a new show?
Oh, that's a tough one! Creation is the best. Sharing those napkin drawings with my design partner, Sean Riley, and brainstorming which elements to build is great. I also enjoy the fabrication. Prepping the materials at the fabrication shop, cutting and painting; and then introducing a new machine to an artist and watching them discover it and use it—that's fantastic.
The Cirque Mechanics ensemble strikes a pose with the Trike Rover. Chris Lashua just left of center, inbetween the spokes! Photo: Alban Rombaux
What makes the Cirque Mechanics ensemble special?
Our creative team is
what makes it all work. This is our fourth production together and we have a range of opinions and approaches. My job is to distill the sometimes opposing views and find the right balance of ideas for the show. Having people on the team who approach the process differently is very
important. We get much better results by having a team of individuals that are talented and who respect the other contributors' opinions.
What are your favorite things about performing at The New Victory?
Wow! We love
coming here. It really is like coming home, from the moment our truck arrives and our team greets the New Victory crew in the loading dock. We first met many of those crew members when we came here with Birdhouse Factory
in 2008. And, of course, being a block from Times Square is about as good as it gets.
All of that is great, but when the house lights dim and the show starts—that is when we really “experience” The New Victory. It's the amazing mix of giggles from young audience members with appreciative nods and cheers from adults, the standing ovations from audiences of children and their grandparents, the seasoned theatergoers alongside families who might be experiencing theater for the first time—all those things are what really make The New Victory our favorite place to perform.
What about Pedal Punk are you most proud of?
I started doing tricks on a BMX bicycle when I was twelve years old, and I haven’t stopped. Bicycles have always been a huge part of my life, so to combine that love with my passion for circus and machines is extremely rewarding.
Why should I see Pedal Punk?
If you love circus or like watching amazing feats of daring; if you are a builder, a maker, a gadget guru; or if you just like to laugh, we think this Pedal Punk
is for you! We are having a blast and hope to meet you after the show!
||Cirque Mechanics' Pedal Punk is at The New Victory through January 3. Wacky circus contraptions, acrobats, dance, comedy—it's unlike anything you've ever seen. Be sure to come early to practice your plate-balancing tricks and take some steampunky photos for sharing, #PedalPunk.