Playing With Air

Playing With Air

Unique show puts wind in WAC sails


Seth Bloom and Christina Gelsone — the married duo behind the fantastical circus-of-sorts “Air Play,” which they are performing in Fayetteville March 8 — are excited to be performing in Baum Walker Hall at the Walton Arts Center. It’s primarily, says Bloom, because of its ceiling height.

If that sounds like an odd thing to be excited about, take a look at the minute-and-a-half online trailer the Acrobuffs have created for “Air Play,” and it might start to make more sense: The actors perform the show in the middle of a ring of powerful fans, aimed toward the roof. The performers harness the flow of air generated by the fans to send a wide-ranging series of objects soaring into the air, sometimes over the heads of the audience, as they tell a wordless story of connecting during a journey.

The entire show is, according to the duo, where “circus and science collide in a gorgeous homage to the power of air,” and the show’s website promises “the biggest snow globe you’ve ever seen” that “will make you gasp in wonder.”

“You’ll laugh a lot, and see things flying up in the air, and over the audience,” says Bloom. “We create a complete galaxy made of balloons and confetti. The audience will have a great time.”

Bloom, originally a juggler by trade, and Gelsone, a ballerina, met in Afghanistan. Gelsone was working with a theater group that performed in war-torn areas and at refugee camps, and Bloom was setting up a theater program for kids.

“Two clowns meet in Afghanistan,” says Gelsone, with a laugh. “It was a great meet-cute.”

Both, by that point, had gravitated to the world of clowning.

“I think, when you’re a clown, you learn lots of different skills, like juggling and acrobatics and comedy,” says Gelsone. You really become a master of all trades.”

They formed their performance troupe, Acrobuffos, in 2005.

“When we started, we decided, very quickly, that we wanted to go around the world, and the quickest way to do that was to create shows without words in them,” says Bloom. “So all of our shows after 2005 have been without words. We use music, silence and beautiful effects.”

They had created and performed six shows in more than 25 countries when they became aware of the world of kinetic sculpture artist Daniel Wurtzel.

“He had premiered a YouTube video of a circle of fans that made fabric dance quite magically,” says Bloom. “We thought, maybe we can work with that guy. So we called him up and told him we wanted to combine our silent clowning with his visual poetry.”

Air Play was created over the span of five years, on and off, as the artists experimented with the different tricks they could accomplish using just the power of air.

“We ended up making about two hours of material, and whittling it down to one,” says Gelsone. “Daniel would call and say, ‘Guys, I have a new thing that you need to see!’ We were literally throwing everything into the air to see what would fly.

“The show is about air, which we never see — and it just completely surprises you in beautiful ways. We never get to see how beautiful air is, and this show really brings out the beauty in large, gorgeous ways.”

Reviews of the show have noted its “universal appeal,” and Bloom emphasizes that, though it’s perfect for children, one needn’t be a child to enjoy it.

“Kids are not required,” he says. “It’s often advertised as being for kids, but we present to all kinds of different audiences. In Europe and South America, our audiences are largely adults.

“We like to hear what people say after a show,” he adds. “What a parent might say, versus what a kid might say, versus what a grandparent might say — it’s all so different. Some of it is very funny, and some of it might move you to tears. We leave the story open ended so people can come to their own conclusions.”



‘Air Play’

WHEN — 7 p.m. March 8

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — $10-$20

INFO — 443-5600

Categories: Theater