ED Live! a new program created to benefit the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation (SMMEF) held its premiere event at Santa Monica High School’s (SAMOHI) Barnum Hall with a behind the scenes look at Cirque Du Soleil.
The Executive Director of SMMEF, Linda Gross, told The Mirror her organization wanted to create a series of events that would engage and entertain our community and have reasonable ticket prices. Tickets to the November 16 event were $20 for adults, $10 for students and $50 for VIP seats. The goal of the program is to have three events a year. Future events could be about a new movie release, a new book or a talk by a movie or play director.
Cirque Du Soleil currently is performing Kooza under their big top next to the Santa Monica Pier. In an interview with The Mirror, their Director of Global Citizenship, Karen Gay, stated they were happy to participate in the SMMEF event because it goes along with their cultural action philosophy. Gay noted that even though they have given other presentations about the inner workings of Cirque the presentation for the SMMEF event was the first of its kind.
The event included video presentations, panels of speakers, an audience member who was transformed through make-up into a Cirque character (Red Bird), and an opportunity for the audience to ask questions. Those in the audience learned about how Cirque started, how they create their shows, how they scout for talent, how they train their performers, about their world headquarters in Montreal, Quebec, and about the technical aspects of their shows.
Carmen Ruest, Cirque’s Director of Creation, stated that, “every Cirque show has its own personality. They are timeless because they talk to anybody at any time in their lives” and there is no text because the story is told visually.
The creative process for a new show can take from two to four years and talented individuals are recruited internationally. Cirque currently has 4,000 employees and 1,000 of them are performing artists. They have been celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2009 by presenting 20 shows simultaneously at locations throughout the world.
The Education Foundation is a non-profit that helps raise funds to support the arts, academics, and athletics programs in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.
Gay also mentioned that on November 17 Cirque “reinvented career day” at Barnum Hall for juniors and seniors from SAMOHI and Malibu High School. The students had the opportunity to learn about the different types of careers that help contribute to Cirque Du Soliel’s success and can dream of maybe “running away with a circus.”