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Circus-In-A-Suitcase: Kevin O'Keefe of Circus Minimus - Fun at Brooks Memorial Library's Birthday Party!


Seriously funny man Kevin O'Keefe, of Circus Minimus fame, will be entertaining children and adults alike with his Circus-In-A-Suitcase, beginning at 10:30 am on Saturday, September 23rd as part of our 50th Birthday party! His fun and entertaining performance in the second floor meeting room will be followed by CAKE!

Here a link to the website and a bio:

http://circusminimus.com/the-one-man-circus-in-a-sui

In 1985 I found an old suitcase on the street outside my apartment in NYC. I said to myself, “I’m going to put whatever can fit into this suitcase and travel the world performing.” That was twenty-three years and thirteen suitcases ago. Since that time I’ve done the One-Man Circus in-a-Suitcase in a palace in India, on a Mapuche Indian reservation on the border of Chile and Argentina, and in an old vaudeville theater on top of an active volcano in Hawaii, and in a mirrored Speigeltent under the Brooklyn bridge. In all I’ve risen the tent over 500 times.

Six Characters in Search of a Circus

After a show people frequently ask , “How did you ever come up with the idea of a One-Man Circus in-a-Suitcase?” Creative ideas emerge from a deep place inside me. Their origin is practical and mysterious at the same time. More than a light bulb moment the show has evolved over years of performance and practice. And asking myself the question that is essential to any art-making enterprise, “What do I want to say?”

My aesthetic education started as a kid where I excelled at athletics and theater. After graduating from Binghamton University with a degree in theater I tried my hand at one of the oldest forms of theater and in one of the hardest places to perform - the streets of Manhattan. I played the steps of the Metropolitan Museum and the Central Park Zoo. 

Around that time I found an old suitcase on the street outside my apartment in NYC. I said to myself, “I’m going to put whatever can fit into this suitcase and travel the world performing.” That was twenty-three years and thirteen suitcases ago. Since that time I’ve done the One-Man Circus in-a-Suitcase in a palace in India, on a Mapuche Indian reservation in the Andes mountains of Argentina, in an old vaudeville theater on top of an active volcano in Hawai’I and in a mirror-filled Speigeltent under the Brooklyn Bridge. I’ve been paid with mangoes, a goat, and a massage. I’ve done it for free and for four figures. The show has evolved over the years based on audience feedback. It involves a way of deep listening while performing. Sometimes I’ve done shows where I didn’t speak the language, sometimes I knew a few words, sometimes I spoke but because of my accent they didn’t understand me. Over the years I’ve performed in nearly every imaginable situation and circumstance. 

In the 1990’s I settled down in New York in order to study acting full time and dedicate myself to the theater. I studied for three years in a studio and all the time did off-Broadway shows along with numerous television and film appearances. I became a member of the Ensemble Studio Theater. I discovered a passion for teaching circus and clowning, eventually directing an inner-city circus in Newark, NJ. It was a challenging environment and a lot of the work was social as well as circus. I was recruited by the Big Apple Circus organization to teach and direct their school productions. My students did our routines in the Big Top tent at Lincoln Center. After taking a small group of talented students to Sweden for an International Circus Festival I felt it was time to strike out on my own. Circus Minimus which up until then was summer camps and the occasional One-Man show became a full-time operation. Eventually we expanded to have a dozen other teachers involved in our afterschool and residency program.

My goal all along has been to expand my self-expression through teaching, directing and performing. In 1998 I decided to retool my One-Man Circus in-a-Suitcase Show. It was time to take it to the next level. I hired a director – Barbara Karger and together we created a new show based on five of my circus characters. 

The show gives everyone an opportunity to participate in an enthralling, whimsical celebration of the imagination. There is the boisterous ringmaster Steve Fitzpatrick, the officious head usher Mervin Merkle, the incredible Bumbilini Family, the Magician to the Stars Clyde Zerbini, and Keefer—an innocent trying to runaway and join the circus. However, the most important performers emerge from the audience. Each performance becomes a dialogue between the characters and the audience—a light-hearted collaboration.

We found the spine of the show in the practice of compassion and the mythic idea of following your dream. There is less of a reliance on make-up, gags and circus technique and more emphasis on characters and spontaneous interaction with the audience. Children frequently become characters in the show itself and complete the act with me. The Big Top is created right before the audience’s eyes. Having one foot in theater and one in circus over the years gave me a physical theater style that in engaging, magical and interactive. It is on a personal scale that few circus clowns can be. In fact, like many people I’m afraid of clowns. Their over-sized personalities scare me.

The One Man Circus in-a- Suitcase is a European style clown show with a flash of vaudeville and some outrageously funny characters. It is a synthesis of twenty-five years of study, practice and experience.<

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