Diane Paulus on running away to join the circus (or the Cirque, at least)

Credit: Cirque du Soleil
Paulus directs her multinational cast. “Amaluna” runs May 29 to July 6 at the Marine Industrial Park.
Credit: Cirque du Soleil

What does it take to attract a Tony-winning director to the circus? If you’re Diane Paulus, artistic director at Cambridge’s American Repertory Theater, you’re just waiting for the chance.

Paulus, who directed the Cirque du Soleil show “Amaluna,” which opens May 29 at the Marine Industrial Park, says she’d been “a huge admirer of their work for years.” The show first premiered in Montreal in 2012, but has since journeyed widely before making its way to Paulus’ hometown. “I was excited to take on this kind of project because I knew it would stretch my brain in new ways,” she adds.

Another contributing factor? Cirque indicated that they wanted this show to be “an homage to women,” per Paulus. As such, the cast is 70 percent women, and has an all female band, both of which are highly unusual for the company. Paulus created the story herself, drawing inspiration from both Greek mythology and Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” “I was fascinated by the Demeter-Persephone myth, mothers and daughters, and the idea of life cycle and renewal,” she says. “I thought about Miranda from ‘The Tempest’ as kind of an archetypal character coming of age. And I thought, well, what if Prospero became Prospera and it was a queen and her daughter?”

Cirque usually has multinational casts, and this show is no exception. Performers hail from 17 countries, which Paulus calls “one of the most challenging and ultimately most rewarding aspects of the entire show.” Rehearsals take place in an airplane hanger near the headquarters in Montreal, with the set already in place. “You’re directing on a mic, because it’s an enormous space and that is the only way anyone can hear you. So I would say on the mic, ‘OK, everybody, let’s take it from the top,’ and immediately I would hear in four different languages, Japanese, Chinese Spanish and Russian, instant translations over the microphone to the artists so that they can hear.”

Though Paulus says in some ways working with acrobats instead of, say, Bryan Cranston, is much the same, there are some big differences. “They can’t repeat the most difficult tricks over and over,” she says. In play rehearsals, actors can keep redoing scenes, but with Cirque, “It’s almost like an Olympic athlete,” Paulus says. “You just can’t work that way with this level of physical duress.”

And of course, it’s fun to play with the idea of being in a circus. “It was so delightful to direct in a big top, I just love the whole ritual of it,” says Paulus. “When you’re onsite in the tent, it really is a tent. You camp out with the company, you eat [in a] cafeteria, which is on a truck bed, and it’s all on site. It’s that feeling of the circus coming to town.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.