CMU School of Drama

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Is Cirque du Soleil's Luzia Cursed?

Theater - The Stranger: On opening night of Cirque du Soleil's Luzia, under a 62-foot-tall big top and in front of 2,600 audience members, a performer in the final act fell. "The spell ended abruptly in the double-swing finale when a flying acrobat landed smack on her back and lay motionless, eventually carried off stage," according to Rosemary Ponnekanti of the Tacoma News Tribune.

9 comments:

Angel Zhou said...

These performers are extremely talented and brave. And, as the article stated, they are human. It is very easy for an audience to forget that the performers they are watching are mortal solely because of the reality-defying tricks that they do. However, accidents like these remind us that every person we see on stage is risking everything in order to give us (and possibly also they themselves) a thrill.

I am left slightly unsatisfied by the article not because of anything the writer did but simply because Cirque du Soleil never disclosed what happened to the fallen performer. I think it’s a duty of the company to let at least the worried audience members know what happened, though I understand that the performer herself may not want negative publicity.

As a result of this article, I looked up the 2013 fatality that was mentioned, and it was a woman who allegedly caused her own death because she climbed too quickly and made a connection come loose. Apparently, her own lack of training (of which she had over 20 years of) was the cause of her death. I find this reasoning to be extremely enraging, and I hope Cirque du Soleil takes more responsibility and is more transparent this time around.

Rebecca Meckler said...

It’s always tragic when someone gets hurt when working on a show. At the end of the day, it's only theater and not worth dying or getting severely injured for. I really liked the perspective that the News Tribune gave; these horrible moments make the audience realize the humanity. The acrobats are putting themselves in danger for the show and it's important to recognize that as an audience member. To me, that realization makes what the performers are doing makes the show astonishing. As horrible as these accidents are, I think it’s important to remember how many times the trick goes correctly and everyone is safe. I’m sure that there are ways to improve the safety for technicians and performers, but Cirque does shows almost every day and most of them go off without a hitch. I don’t think that Luzia is cursed, but it is horrible that there have been so many accidents on this show.

Ali Whyte said...

The title of this article was definitely a little confusing. I expected much more of a critical take on the show, when in fact this seemed much more like a marketing piece than anything else. I am also hesitant about the title in the first place; shows aren't really cursed, perhaps ill-designed or unsafe, but not really cursed. It is, of course, always tragic when an accident happens on something like this, and I am very glad that the performer on opening night was not injured, but it seems like there were 2 issues with this show one on opening, and one the night after that. This, to me, doesn't so much seem like a curse as much as not enough tech time or rehearsal. If there's problems with the automation, I would think those would have gotten fixed in tech, and since the accident was one that occurred with the spinning towers, perhaps it is a technical issue that needs more attention.

William N. Lowe said...

I think that the author is exaggerating a little bit here. Technology fails. It happens with any show and the more technology that a show has, the more likely some piece of technology will fail at some point during its run. People fall. It happens a lot in theatre. It just so happens that in this show — at points — the stakes are higher for the consequences if someone does fall. This is purely just the nature of the show itself. The only thing which could mean that the show is “cursed” would be what happened to the technician in San Fransisco; however, only one really bad thing happening to a show is not enough to consider it cursed. It is just a high stakes show on all fronts and it is important to understand that with great risk comes both great reward and great consequences. It is just in the nature of the show.

Megan Jones said...

I can't even imagine how I would feel if I was in the audience and a performer fell during an act. Obviously in a Cirque show they're are going to be some risks that performers take every night, as that is a part of the entertainment factor of the show. However, this doesn't mean that this accident wasn't a big deal, and I wish this article went more into detail about what caused them. This author spent much more time talking about the show itself and the turntable breakdown during the show than the injuries and death. They almost seem to gloss over the fact that a technician was killed when equipment toppled over. I think they should of focused on that as opposed to scenery not working right for one show. I have to agree with Ali that shows are never cursed, but rather just unsafe or people aren't properly trained.

Sasha Schwartz said...

Hearing about any sort of theater accidents, especially ones with companies such as Cirque and other intensely aerial-focused performance groups always makes me so nervous. I know that many of our alum go on to work/ intern at Cirque du Soleil, and I can’t imagine what the feeling must be to be a part of a company in which every day, death and injury is entirely possible, no matter how often rigging and other technical elements are checked- as the article says, these performers are human, and they are risking their lives every day for their art, their craft, and their living. I can’t help but wonder what happened to cause the woman to fall on opening night. It seems to me that a fall like that could be fatal, so I guess it’s good to hear that she remained fully conscious and didn’t even need to go to the hospital. I saw a show in Boston called “Cuisine and Confessions” this past summer, which is a play/ circus act by the group The Seven Fingers, and it was a beautiful multi-cultural show about food and family, as well as including many amazing physical feats such as a woman performing aerial silks with picnic table cloths and a man sliding all the way down a pole head-first and catching himself right before hitting the stage. I saw the performance twice because I loved it so much, and the second time i saw it the man sliding down the pole just barely touched his head on the floor when he slid down it upside down for his main act, and you could see his neck bend slightly and hear a slight sound. It was a terrifying moment, but he quickly got up, went to the microphone, and said “don’t worry, the floor is soft!”, before continuing his scripted monologue and getting back on the pole to continue the act. These people do amazing things with their bodies day-in and day-out, so it’s always devastating to hear that these things can happen in the blink of an eye, usually with little fault from a single party.

Emma Reichard said...

I’m not superstitious. At all. I walk under ladders with no issue. I break mirrors all of the time. And I’m a proud owner of two black cats. But when it comes to theatre superstitions, I am extremely cautious for two reasons. First, you never know and most of the time I’m doing all I can to hold a show together so I don’t want to chance it. Second, there’s always someone who does believe in that stuff, and even if I didn’t just curse the show by say Macbeth in the space, that person will always have it in the back of their mind that the show is cursed and that could very well cause them to mess up or something. That’s why I hope the writer of the article realizes what they are doing. Because the moment you say ‘cursed’ in front of performers, bad things start to happen. Maybe because there really is a curse, but more likely because that though is in everyone’s head now. So no, I don’t think that production of Luzia is cursed. I think there are some safety issues to address. And I’m sure the competent, capable, not-at-all-cursed technicians and performers at Cirq will straighten those issues out.

Galen shila said...

In a world where you are juggling all day everyday you are going to eventually drop the ball. The same is true for this kind of performance. Even though we try our very hardest to make sure performers are safe there is always going to be risk involved. It is our job as technicians to make it as safe as possible despite the risk. Something that has always been an element of the circus is the danger of it all. Throughout history people have gone to the circus as a way to experience that danger, it's part of the gig. While unfortunate it is not all too surprising when accidents happen. luckily because of precautions we have reduced injury in the circus and other performances ten fold over the last hundred years. I mean when was the last circus fire you heard of? It was not uncommon in the heyday of the circus.

Tahirah K. Agbamuche said...

Well, for one thing my heart goes out to the performer, their family and the cirque company. I can only imagine just how scary something like this is to witness. That being said, it comes with the territory, unfortunately. By accepting the job, all the workers also accept the risk...This is the technicians and the performers. The entertainment industry is a dangerous one. Of course I am not saying to accept things like this as fact, but I am prepared to take risks. I feel like it is a little much to say that Luiza is cursed after listing two events alone. It doesn't seem like nearly enough information to question if the production is cursed or not. All that being said, we do need to learn where to draw the line between entertainment and safety somewhere. Of course, one can never develop safe practices without first working with performers, but human life is also a treasure. I do not know a lot about unions and what the laws are, but I hope that we keep evolving to keep entertainers on all areas of the stage safe.