Saturday, March 31, 2012

Certified Lunatic and Master of the Impossible Tomas Kubinek

Certified Lunatic and Master of the Impossible 
 Tomas Kubinek
March 29- April Fool’s Day (April 1)
Presented by ArtsEmerson
Playing at the Paramount Center
559 Washington Street, Boston, MA

For information and tickets:

By Amy R. Tighe

(The notes I scribbled in the dark during the performance say “laughter was held tenderly in the room.”)
Sell that old silver tea pot and that vintage Hawaiian shirt (yes I know you look great in it) and take the grandkids and also every other kid you know and your auntie too and go see this show. Right now. It’s only here this weekend and you need it now. I’m sorry. Ditch the brunch party. Better yet, take the entire brunch gang. Just go alone or do what some unrenowned Emerson student did—he or she gave 10 tickets to the local Boys and Girls Club and helped kids get hungry for real art and then- amazingly—let them be completely served by Tomas Kubinek, Certified Lunatic, Master of the Impossible and most definitely, an artist to experience. In his opening remarks, Rob Orchard, Executive Director of ArtsEmerson, movingly reminds us that budgets for the arts are being cut everywhere. Tonight, we see what we could lose and also, what could be ours to reclaim.

There is a song called “The Road I Took to You” by Barbara Keith that says “the way back home to me is the road I took to you.” An evening with Tomas Kubinek could be called “the Clown I Took to You” because he brings us back home to what it means to be human, together in a human crowd, completely present to the enormous human possibility we each have. This is NOT a return to the nostalgia of vaudeville although there are charming and compelling moments of that. It is NOT quaint. It is NOT cute. It is a forecast to what happens when an artist brings a disparate community together where wonder and laughter are our founding members.

On the subway, on my way home, I suddenly realized there were no t-shirts, no plastic cups, no overpriced brochures. No dolls. There was nothing for my 9 year old niece to drool over. There was just my heart opening. This is NOT Disney on ice. This is gazing into the edges of humanity and creativity and having a guide who loves you and loves humanity at the same time, and on your time, wants to play. With you. Okay, that may sound grandiose, especially when you consider there are only a few props, one man and bad chicken jokes. But I come home empty handed and mind fed. How did that happen?

Tomas Kubinek was about 4 when he saw his first circus. At age 9, he performed in front of a council of magicians and at 13, acquired an agent. He has been performing ever since. He is both ethereal and pedestrian, truly a magical combination. Born in Prague, escaped to and raised in Canada, Kubinek studied every magician, clown and circus act his parents allowed. He has spent his lifetime learning from international masters and performing on the world’s stage.

My knees are pretty much the same age as his and yet, his knees speak Wikipedias about the power and delight a career focused on being simply human brings. He does a dance with his knees and six shoes which seem impossible, and yet as he does it, he acts as if it’s the easiest and most enjoyable dance anyone could ever do. I want lessons. Don’t worry, I already have the shoes.

Like any good street performer, Kubinek gets members of the audience to play. One man, over 50, comes up on stage and in front of a full theatre, transforms into a master acrobat under Kubinek’s safe guidance. At the end of the trick, he is asked “Did you ever think you could do that?” And the man says quietly, “No. Never.” We are stunned. We saw him do it. He was amazing.

By now, we have all been transformed into Kubinek’s playmates and the Paramount has become our beloved playground. After the performance, Kubinek comes out to the front of the stage and welcomes visitors, talks to all of us, and engages respectfully with the children who come to ask him their wide-eyed “How did you do thats?”

This is also why the performance is remarkable. The audience was composed of a healthy number of children, the adults that love them, regular theatre goers, students and other clowns. And somehow, through Kubinek’s generous mastery, we were all included in this evening of intelligent, fortifying and inspiring play. The children in the audience got to see adults happily play. The adults got to see children learning from another human. (I asked the 11 year olds next to me what they thought. They had told me before the show that they loved their computer games, but afterwards, they thought he was totally awesome and made them want to learn magic.)

We all got to be a part of the play.
Go see it. Bring whomever you can. And welcome home.

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