If you plan to see Circus Der Sinne perform Mother Africa at The New Victory Theatre on 42nd Street before the last show on Jan 1, 2017, you may want to wait to read this blog. If you are a parent or expecting parent, interested in learning more about one of NYC’s cultural performances,
New York City is such a wonderful place to raise children who appreciate and value cultural theatre, art, music, and dance performances.
I recently had the pleasure of attending such a performance at the New Victory Theatre. I found out about Mother Africa one morning while watching Good Day New York. I immediately called my mother and asked her to tune in to the segment featuring two of Circus Der Sinne’s spectacular performers. Her response to that clip was, “Let’s take the children to see it!” The 2pm performance on Wednesday, December 28 was a perfect Chanukah gift for my children during their vacation from school.
Simply put, Mother Africa is an African circus, a showcase of talent, entertainment, and skill. Every performer, the set, and the band, work seamlessly together. The band has the spectacular South African township music sound, and even plays some Calypso and also Bob Marley.
The jamming is broken up by segments of live drumming that had me ready to run up on stage and bust a few moves. Instead, I let out a loud “lou-lou-lou-lou-lou-lou-lou!”, the call I learned many years ago while attending many African dance classes and performances. If my fellow theatregoers were unaware of the African tradition of shared energy and call-and-response, I did them a favor by demonstrating it!
For real. There is absolutely no way to have a bad time at Mother Africa. Mother Africa left me entertained, amazed, and inspired!
The New Victory Theatre is a family focused venue. It is both lovely enough to have an authentic Broadway feel, and cozy enough for every seat in the house to have a great view of the stage. All this adds to the drama when seeing the Mother Africa acrobats, doing precise ballet like contortions at ridiculous heights on unheard of surfaces; a wooden plank on top of a hollow tube, and several layers of this configuration, like a triple decker sandwich. And speaking of sandwich, their child friendly concession stand is top notch! I purchased two bags of sea salt popcorn, one bag of BBQ bean chips, two natural juice pouches, and a 16 oz bottle of water for 8 bucks! In a venue in NYC theatre district. That’s cheaper than some Brooklyn bodegas would have charged me!
The show is set in a township in South Africa, and depicts everyday life, just with a circus twist. So one minute, a beautiful woman is serving drinks to some men at a restaurant, the next minute she is doing a stunt. First she lays down on a chair, with her feet parallel to the chair’s back. Then, one of the men throws a square table which she catches with her feet, and begins spinning it and flipping it! All with her feet. Simply breathtaking!
All of these stunts are done with great skill, technique, and precision. The ever present feeling of danger is assuaged by the deep trust that the audience gains by watching these talented performers successfully do the unthinkable. In this circus, there are no nets. One wrong move could mean disaster!
When I was a child, my mother made it a priority to buy tickets for our family to attend many performances on and off of Broadway. One of the plays that had a huge impact on me was Sarafina.
Seeing Mother Africa reminded me of the pride, freedom, and joy I felt while watching Sarafina.
I am so grateful that now that she is a grandmother, my mother is still giving the gift of culture. I’m also thankful that the New Victory Theatre believes that children can appreciate and should be included in theatre shows. These are the gifts that last for a lifetime.