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Our guest today: Lisa B Lewis
Lisa B Lewis is the Founder and Executive Director, Omnium Circus Lisa began her career as a graduate of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College. She has a BA from Brandeis University and earned a Master’s Degree in Clown/Circus History from NYU, co-founded the Super Scientific Circus, and spent many years working with the Big Apple Circus in multiple capacities. Lisa’s passion for sharing the magic of the circus combined with her many years of experience inspired her to reimagine the art form of circus for 21st Century audiences as Omnium: A Bold New Circus. Sharing in the joy and excitement of the performing arts is an experience that should be available to everyone, regardless of background, race, gender or ability. Omnium makes that happen.”
Watch our interview
Lisa B Lewis: @Omnium Circus – the story of America’s first multi-abled, fully accessible circus – powered by Happy Scribe
Circus is here with me. I am really, really thrilled that she’s here, guys. So I’m going to briefly introduce you Lisa, and if there are any comments coming in, questions that we absolutely welcome them. So here we go. Lisa B. Lewis is the founder and executive director of Omnium Circus. Lisa began her career as a graduate of Ringling Brothers, the Barnum and Bailey Clown College. She has a BA from Brandeis University, which is quite close to where I am here in Massachusetts, and earned a Master’s degree in Clown and Circus History from New York University, co founded the Super Scientific Circus and spent many years working with the Big Apple Circus in multiple capacities. Lisa’s passion for sharing the magic of circus, combined with her many years of experience, inspired her to reimagine the art form of the circus for the 21st century audiences as Omnium, a bold new circus sharing the joy and excitement of the performing arts in the experience that should be available to everyone regardless of their background, race, gender or ability, and make it happen. I hope all of you guys would check out on theemcircus.org. And in the description below, we listed social media links, Facebook, IG, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, where you can follow on the MSEK.
And for those of you who don’t know, I’m someone who is really passionate about the topic of all ability, people with a disability. So super thrilled that, Lisa, you are finally here with us. Welcome.
Thank you so much. Thank you so much for having me. And hello, everybody.
Yeah. So let’s see, what do we begin talking about? I think, Lisa, a lot of people still don’t know much about Omen Circus, and you guys have a show coming up very, very soon, I think within a week or so at the link.
Of my next week.
Next week. So tell us about what is this event about and how could people access that? Who is it for? What is it for?
So, next week, the 16th, 17th, and 18 September, omnium Circus is featured at the Big Umbrella Festival at Lincoln Center. And this is a festival of performances and interactive events, all geared for people that have different access needs. So specifically, for people who haven’t been able to go to things because they didn’t have the access, because they get sensory overload too quickly, or because the audio description wasn’t there for them. So it’s a perfect mesh with Omnium because that’s exactly what we do. So we’re very excited to be featured at the Big Umbrella Festival. And if you are interested in joining us, the tickets are free. So you can go to our website, omniumcircus.org. Click on the events page and that will take you to Big Umbrella Festival. Click there and you can register for tickets online and you’ll see our schedule and everything there. It’s one and six. So that’s really exciting. Amy Circus was founded just you said people hadn’t heard of us, and they haven’t because we’re new. We’re a two year old organization that has absolutely taken the world by storm, which is a phenomenal thing. As a pandemic happened and the rest of the world shuttered down, we realized that this was our opportunity to open up, because now everybody’s on a level playing field, nobody can go out.
So it was our opportunity to welcome everyone, to welcome people who couldn’t have gone out because of whatever whatever reasons. So the first thing we did was to create a virtual production, which we filmed during the pandemic. And now if you would like to see that production, you can. We have it now as a part of a complete education package. So we have a virtual show. We have a full 40 page curriculum guide that goes with it, and we’re very excited to share that with schools and classrooms and really help them to learn not only science and steam curriculum, but in women’s circus history and black circus history and all of us together. So we’re excited about that. And then we started let’s say we did that and it was intended to be just kind of a showcase to say, hey, this is what the potential is. This is what we could do. And everybody liked it so much that we just started doing it.
Yeah, I mean, it’s been, like you said, two years. One thing that we haven’t really kind of talked about as openly is the fact that people don’t know what Amy Circus is. It’s not only that for the audience is incredibly accessible, but also, I love the fact that the circus itself has employed so many people from all around the world with a disability, with different abilities. And could you talk about that? About actual, like, providing employment opportunities for these people? And some of the acts are just not some. All of them are just incredible.
So we are 40% people with disabilities, and it’s absolutely vital. From our original sorry, dogs.
Yeah, somebody else also agreed.
But from our original concept, the whole idea, a, audiences must have access, but B, they’ve got to feel represented. When you go to a show, you need to identify. You need to feel that you connect, that you belong. Not every single character is exactly every single person, but enough that you can feel a connection with this incredibleness so that you know that you, too, are incredible. Because we all are. Every one of us. Each has our own magic, and we each can be our best selves. So given the statistic that one in four people in the nation has a disability, so that’s 25% of the country. So think about it. 25% of the country has a disability. Each one has parents, families, siblings, friends, community. So now you’re at about 87% of the country that is touched by disability. That means everybody needs to be welcomed and they need to feel represented. So we make sure that our artists are the same percentage we employ artists with disabilities. Our lighting designer has a disability. Our board member has people with disabilities. Our tech table, every level in the back office, every single aspect of our company is inclusive of all demographics of people with disabilities because it’s vital.
You’ve got to hear every voice. Every voice counts. Every voice matters. And I can’t do something for you if I don’t know what you want. You know what I mean? Like, I can prepare this beautiful thing for someone who’s blind, but I’m not blind. So I called my friend Brian, who is, and I say, hey, Brian, does this work for you? He works for us. It’s not just random friend, actually.
For instance, how does it work? People think of circus as something really visual, and if somebody has a visual disability, vision impairment, please, for whoever is watching, excuse my language. I’m not an expert in this, and I know I should be very careful. Lisa, how do you guys go about introducing this very visual experience to someone who potentially would have a vision impairment?
So we have what’s called audio description and audio description audio version of what’s going on visually. So the person will come in, and it’s a slightly different format depending on which theater or genre, but usually you pick up some headsets as you walk in. You put the headsets in, and then you can hear the entire show described as it’s happening. So you get the whole head. And then for those who are destined, we do touch tours because that’s how they receive information. So they’ll come after the performance, and we have to schedule it, of course.
But they’ll come in after the performance and get to meet the artists and feel the costumes and feel the props and feel the equipment and feel how things move so that they can get a sense in their minds about what’s going on as well.
Wow. And I just want to take a moment here to talk about the fact that a lot of people who watch Face Feisworld Media are there are a lot of creators, and surprising and not surprising, a lot of people who choose to work with them. So they’re virtual assistants, content strategists, content managers. And I love this kind of collective. Yet in the Socalled, the normal world, we run into constraints all the time. Well, this didn’t work visually. That isn’t perfect. We spent so much time criticizing ourselves, limiting ourselves, and yet what I’m hearing now is something so incredible. Lisa and I just want to take a pause and applaud to the fact that you guys are creating something brand new. There must be a lot of challenges that come with this. And before this, I just want to address warner is here, so I want to have his questions answered. It’s sometimes hard to discuss these topics as able bodied person. I don’t always know how to talk about these topics in a respectable way. Any tips? And we’ll go back to my previous question.
Which question shall I answer this? Warner.
Yeah, maybe the Warner’s question first. How do we people without maybe a lot of us have invisible disabilities as well. So people without a visible disability, how can we talk about and approach these topics in a respectful way?
I think that’s exactly the key. Respectful. I don’t speak for someone without asking how they wish to be spoken about. So ask someone, how would you like to be spoken about? I think that what I’ve learned is that the most important thing is to ask questions like I wouldn’t our aerialist it’s a phenomenal aerial act, right?
She just happened to get born that way. But I wouldn’t say to represent her. I always describe her as a gorgeous aerialist because that’s what she is, first and foremost. Secondly, you notice that she was born without legs, but her artistry comes first, and that’s how she chooses to be represented because she wants her artistry at the forefront because she’s worked so very hard and she’s quite wonderful. So that’s how she chooses. So that’s how I represent her. And I think you just have to really ask questions and be respectful and mindful of the person that you are speaking about and making sure you’re speaking to them. And at least in my world, I’ve learned to communicate more from here. This is a visual for anyone who is low vision on this call. I’m taking my hands in front of my chest and I’m moving them outwards. And I’m doing that because that, to me, is the center and the core of communication. Because if you communicate truthfully from your heart, then you’ll find if it’s honest and it’s true, you’ll find fewer mistakes or you’ll own them or you’ll say, okay, I made a mistake because I just didn’t know.
And that’s okay. As long as it’s done with love, with a pure heart, that’s the best you can do. You can’t possibly know. People are changing all the time. So many different disabilities. There’s no rule. There’s no you have to say this isn’t because things are constantly changing. Our whole world is changing now. Thank goodness. We are really a force for global change. This isn’t the era of sideshows. Nobody’s laughing. Everybody’s going, Whoa. And that’s what we should be doing. So with change comes uncertainty. And that’s okay.
Yeah. I want to add to that beautiful answer, Lisa. I know that this question could come from a lot of people, a lot of us. And one of the things that I’ve learned along the way is also, like you said, ask questions and also ask about the stories. And instead of saying things like, oh, obviously not. What’s wrong with you? What’s going on here? Or, you know, coming from your perspective? And something I learned from a recent guest about? What’s the story? Do you want to share the story? I am someone who feel that just because this topic is difficult or maybe even awkward or maybe scary to some people doesn’t mean that you should just always turn away from it. Don’t stare, but also don’t just look away, like immediately trying to disappear into your own world. I think there’s something really beautiful and really intriguing about everyone’s stories and to hear them out. And there’s just for me, at least, the experience has been that there’s just so much to learn. I have learned so much from the enabled disabled project, learned so much from interacting with you, Lisa. Even just our 1 hour phone call last week, I felt like I learned a lot.
So thank you so much for that. And, yeah, Perry Kanopurd is here, who’s the previous guest from just the episode right before you, Lisa.
Yeah. Perry runs this incredible organizations called the Octopus Movement for multipotential light neurodiverse people. So I feel like that’s isn’t that incredible. And you’re very welcome, Warner. This has been a fruitful conversation already, and so I guess I’ve already forgotten my question before all this. I think we want to ask a much more important question. And nonlinear thinkers. All right, thank you guys for being here. But, Lisa, I think it’s important for us to really know more about you. I love getting to know the creator and in your case, executive director behind all of this. And because, frankly, a lot of us, I think, like Perry, like Warner and people who are watching this now, please say hi, and hundreds of people, hopefully thousands, who will watch this afterward. Many of us, the majority of us are doing something really incredible and frankly, comes at a cost, right? There are a lot of sacrifices, not just yourself, and you have a family as well. Lisa, you’re working on all of this. I know you have a daughter you mentioned right before the show. So could you talk about what it’s like for you to work on this project if you’re open to your current living situation, condition, how much you’re working, how much you’re giving?
It all is what I’m hearing. Could you tell us more about that? Is it worth it to you?
I’ll start with why, when I grew up, I grew up in a family of people who spent their lives trying to make the world a better place. I had the example of my grandparents who fought very hard in the 60s for civil rights. They were in Memphis. My grandmother got if I can see it, please do. This is something I keep right next to me. The NCCJ award that my grandmother got for singlehandedly integrating the campaign of Lyndon B. Johnson because he wanted her to have a party for white women and a party for black women. And she said, nope, I’m having one party. And back in the 60s, that was a really big deal. No building would house them. And she made it happen. And that’s the stock that I come from. In my culture, it’s called Ticunalom repairing of the world. So I always want to leave the world a better place than I found it. So what do I have to offer? I can’t fix homelessness. I can’t change world hunger. What can I do? I have a talent to bring joy. I have a talent to bring laughter. I can do that.
And I can bring people together through that seed. All peoples, all cultures. Everybody can come together and forget the world for 30 seconds or for 2 hours or 1 hour, however long the show happens to be. I can allow you that moment to breathe and to share joy and to have access to that joy. And to me, that’s what drives me, is being able. That’s my gift, and that’s what I’m able to give. You asked what I do. Well, I’m sitting in a corner of my bedroom at the moment, my office. I work on this project very much full time, about 60 to 70 hours a week, because there’s a lot of logistics and creation, and there’s a lot of things that go into creating an organization, specifically a nonprofit organization, as you know. So I work really hard and do the best I can to offer it and help people enjoy it and everybody around me.
Yeah, you’re not alone.
I can be myself. I mean, there’s a team of us that are working really crazy hard, and each person has their job, and each person has their specialty, and we collaborate really, really well. It’s a wonderful, wonderful group of people.
Well, there are a lot of parallels that I feel like your message has been resonating with me. I think you love art. Naturally. Lisa, you commented on this painting behind me. For those of you who can’t really see the whole thing, I mean, literally, it’s covering the entire wall behind me. My mom painted this 4 meters by 2 meters. It is huge. And so, Lisa, the reason why I brought it up is because last week, with all that our conversation, all that hard work that you’re putting in here, I said, Why? You said, this is something you see as a must do, a must see, a must exist. And that really hit me, like, this has to exist. My mom, who’s 70 years old, is doing this. And, like, for her, it’s really intricate details. She could have easily worked on commercial artworks and just get paid or just have fun or play golf all day. She chooses not to do that. This gives her joy. And this thing that you are doing now that gives you joy may not give everybody joy, but it’s important to you. So could you talk about, from a creator’s perspective, why how does it feel to work on something so important that you’re so passionate about and perhaps going to a Michelin Star restaurant or traveling around the world or buying expensive things or maybe not that important at the moment.
Could you like help us understand that relationship? Because not everybody is able to see or experience it that way.
Yeah, not so important to me. Fancy things. I’m not a particularly materialistic person. I could probably use some new clothes. It’s just a clown, you know, it’s just not my thing. I appreciate it very, very much. And if that’s other people’s things, that’s great because everybody has to have a thing, right? But it just doesn’t happen to be mine. Mine is really creating something that makes the world better for having had me in it. It matters to me that everybody is allowed the same joyful experience. When I look in the eyes of this boy that I taught this summer, we taught at a camp for kids who are blind and we did a whole circus. All the kids were low vision. Low vision or blind. And to watch this 14 year old who was like because he’s 14, you know, happened. Blind individuals say I don’t like circus. And by the end of that week put down his cane, walk on what we’d set up as a high wire, which was a small balance beam without a cane, without assistance and proudly declare I like circus, I can do this. His entire body changed. He went from this to this.
And for anyone who can’t see that visual, I curved my shoulders down and then I pulled them back so that the chest is more open to feel the pride coming out. So to the the heart of transformation child. To see the transformation in the kids who are allowed to express themselves. We had another young person at that camp whose mother is still very much ashamed of his disability. He was a young man with autism and his mother is still very much ashamed of his disability and doesn’t let him out and doesn’t take him out a lot. And he got on stage and just lit up. He was gorgeous. To share that, to have kids come and see the professional circus omnium circus and look up there and identify with Jen and identify with Rick and identify with Anna and to identify with each performer, with the King Charles troop to say, wow, they’re like me, I can be my best self. That’s huge. It’s amazing to me that to be able to share with people the joy and the possibility. Circus has always been a mass media, a mass art form. It’s an art form that’s meant for the masses.
It’s not the met. That’s only meant for people who can pay $300 a ticket. It’s meant for everybody. And as such it has a very unique opportunity to bring everybody together. And that means at every level, love partnerships, love collaborations, love working on new projects with new people. And here’s who we are and what we have to offer and oh, you’re doing that, and we’re sort of parallel.
I apologize for that. That’s great too.
Hold on. There we go.
It’s live, guys.
What is live? Sorry.
That is just incredible. I have to type really quick. To share with people, in case that you weren’t on when Lisa said this. To be able to share with people the joy and the possibilities, I think it’s really it’s beyond what we can comprehend. I mean, to be able to see a vice president and who is of Indian and African American heritage, to be able to see to be able to go to a show for free and to see performers who have many different abilities or disabilities, and to be able to witness that is truly incredible. I remember my first show, I’ve circu Soleil, and to see people being able to fly in the air, just tears came down, just rushing out on my I mean, it was just bawling unexpectedly. And seeing a young woman, I don’t know, like 50ft, up in the air and just doing all sorts of things, and your heart just goes out for her no matter what. Think about the bravery. And then I saw Amyn circus with all the acts. Frankly, nothing is less than. It is just incredible. I look at this, I’m like.
Lifetime would I be able to do something like this? And I go and I was thinking about the strap arrows. My mom looked at this as an artist. She has all these imaginations. She’s like, oh, look at the line. Look at everything. There is nothing to us. There’s nothing missing or different. We’re less than. And it’s like, this is the body we have to we can work with. We can do so much more than what we’ve been told. And so there’s a recently, there’s a website by this young woman who wrote something english is not her first language. And I got really activated and motivated. So much of our life is about unlearning and unlearning and relearning. And I feel like by watching The Omnium Circus and I think I saw part of maybe the summer camp or something that happened recently where children with different abilities were trying all sorts of things. There’s a young boy had this, like, feather of some sort, like, on his forehead, and he’s trying to balance it, and he did a really good job. And I’m sitting there thinking, I just want to grab something in my room and start balancing on it.
Tell us more. Tell us more about what else. What other feedback have you heard from parents, from them on the audience? What have they learned?
Parents are just blown away because they have not had the opportunity to bring their whole entire family. I mean, think about it. If you have one kid on the autism spectrum, you can only go to a show on sensory friendly day. Well, what if your other kid has this has this schedule? Or that schedule? Or what if your husband is blind, or your dad or your mom is blind? So now you’re navigating all these different things and that means none of you can share something together because there’s not all access for everyone at any one performance.
So now you can. My true hope, and this is my dream for beyond my dreams, is that Omnium will be so successful, people will come, they’ll buy tickets, they’ll support us, they’ll join this movement, they’ll join us, and we will be so successful that everybody wants. And then Broadway shows will become more accessible and they will become more inclusive, and television will become more accessible and more inclusive, and other shows will become more accessible and more inclusive. And eventually, 20 years from now, or 30 years from now, well, closer to 20 years from now, I can sit back and say the world is now a better place.
Now we would have never thought the way we’re now.
My brain works on so many different things at the same time. Forgive me, it’s the ADHD can’t help it. But to be able to create something as a part of this global movement and have it be successful because people only copy success. And we are successful and we are out there and the shows are phenomenal and they’re not all the same. It’s not just that there are only.
Ten people who can do this.
The world is so full of so many talented performers with so many different abilities that having the opportunity to showcase them in all these different venues together with ablebodied, with disabled, with deaf, with everybody’s together and learning to work as a company is creating. My hope is that we are creating a model that others will emulate so the whole world will become more accessible.
I think it sounds very achievable. I think we just all have to be a little more patient. But before assuming anything, people, whoever is watching this, you don’t know, right? We’re broadcasting on YouTube and LinkedIn combined. My audience, about 300 people. Frankly, not everybody’s here all at once, but let’s say they discovered this and audience much beyond mine will be watching this. What can people do to help? What are some of the options? Money is one, donation is one. What are some of the other ways to help spread the word? And I might have some opinions too after this.
You should. The best thing to do is go to our website, sign up for the mailing list, make sure you put outreach at Omniumcircas on your spam filter. Because onneemcircus.org, for some reason goes to people’s spam. And so I write letters and they never get them. So make sure you unblock it from your spam filter. Follow us on all the social media things we try to post things of interest, things of education, things obviously about the shows where you can get tickets. Definitely do that. We are a nonprofit. All donations are gratefully accepted. This is not a cheap business model. Access is expensive. And I was talking to a friend of mine who lives in Canada, and she was putting together a much smaller version, but a similar concept, and she did it in like, half the time. I was like, I’m so jealous of you for living in a country that.
Supports the arts, because was that Montreal, Canada? Yes, I figured that much. But they’re fantastic.
Access is expensive, so every show that we produce is 25% to 30% more expensive than producing the exact same show without access, without people with special abilities. So that money has to come from somewhere. So if you donations are great connections, introductions to people, introductions to anyone who might want to join the team. I mean, we’re always looking for new and interesting person. And then come see shows, come see all the shows. We’re at Lincoln Center, and then if anyone on this is from the middle of the country, we’ll be in Arizona for two or three weeks. We’re going Lincoln Center. Then we have a week, and then we go to Phoenix. So we’ll be at the Arizona State Fair, and we have an incredible booking agency. We signed up with Harmony Artists, so who knows where we’re going to pop up next? I know we’re going to be back in DC in February, so join in.
Wow, it’s a traveling show now. This is incredible.
Yeah, we’ll be in New York a lot. Keep up with the website. Join us, follow, come play, come play.
And just kind of I think to choose to experience something that you may not be familiar with. Right. If you are someone who’s like, oh, you’ve seen Arts, emerson and Serk du Soleil and all of that, give yourself and your family and your friends a chance to explore something a little different. And I think it’s so as someone. I have been supporting circus Art for a long time, I think officially since 2015, getting to know the African twins, shana Carroll and Jimmy Snyder. I mean, these incredible people and women, oh, my goodness. I can just keep shouting out their names. Roman Tomanov. I mean, like Irene Tornasaki. I mean, these people are doing absolutely incredible things. I’m just so proud of them. I think it’s important for us to go into theaters and go into arts without judgment and preconceptions as much, because sometimes we live in this world. Like you said, Lisa, mass media is about the most dangerous, most ridiculous acts, and maybe it’s not about that. This is why one of the reasons why I appreciate Seven Fingers so much, like, I don’t think, for instance, the artist should I want to hear your opinion on this as well, lisa should risk their lives, their wellbeing, to entertain you.
I think arts can come together. To have so many different feelings, emotions and lessons and connections. So, Lisa, how do you guys balance between giving people the surprise of the light and then not like, not for art’s sake or to go overboard? Like, what is that balance?
There’s a difference between an amateur and a professional. In a professional world, you want to make it look like you’re risking your life, but you’ve got eight shows to do this week. You darn well better be ready to do them.
Yeah, I love it.
This isn’t like we’re not going out and doing something silly that only you’re going to do it one time and then you may or may not live. There’s a place for that, but that’s not where I go. This is a professional performing arts company. We want to make it look difficult and dame and exciting and crazy. And at the end of the day, we go home, we eat dinner, we rest, we ice, do it again. So, you know, there’s a big difference. This is a professional company. I love seven fingers, by the way. My dream one day, and I’ve talked to Gypsy about this one day, I want to have a big enough production budget to invite Gypsy to direct a show because I just love her work.
Oh, my goodness. What’s your passage? Passengers is something I could just keep watching that when I was like, oh, crying, watching their shows. What’s your favorite?
I love it.
Yes. The names are hard to remember.
I don’t know that I have one because I really love everything that they do. It’s funny because you said something earlier. You said people say, oh, I’ve seen circus la. I don’t need to see a circus. But think about it. How many different Broadway shows are there? You’ll go see different Broadway shows, every circus is different. Why wouldn’t you go see different circuses?
True. They’re all different.
You have more than one theater show, why wouldn’t you have more than one circus? It’s all different. Everybody’s different and they’re all great. Well, no, that’s not true. Some of them are great. Most of them are very good.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, every year I go to see the I visited the National Circus School in Montreal. And every year, for people who are watching, those guys block your calendar for usually the first two weeks in July in its compliment, the Cirque, which means completely circus in Montreal, the beautiful city, first of all, and you get to.
See around the world.
Oh my goodness, I would love to be able to see Amy there. Do you think that’s possible, Lisa?
Anything is possible. Anything and everything is possible. It boils down to logistics and money. Anything else? I can make it happen. Logistics, we got that. We know how to do that. Money. We don’t quite get that yet, but we’re working on it. But why not?
Yeah. Do you have any connections to the Rohu and the completely circus people in montreal. I assume you do, lisa I’m not sure.
Actually. I have a couple of connections to mick, which is similar. I don’t actually I’d love to meet them, though.
Yeah, I actually love our connection. They’re incredible. They’re very diverse in terms of the recruitment of people from, like, literally from all around the world, different languages. And I will definitely make the introduction. So glad I asked.
That’d be great.
I’d love to meet yeah, absolutely. I know. I’m definitely going to be there next year. This year was a little awkward because we’re waiting, waiting for the update of COVID and all that, and it was very last minute until the end of june. I was kind of like, oh, hopeless. Probably not going to have the circus this year, the festival this year. And of course, end of june. I went on their website, immediately purchased like, 14 tickets for the first week of july. But I wish I knew because some of the tickets already sold out, and my availability wasn’t, like, accommodating, and I wanted to be I usually a part of the media team, and so I would pre schedule and talk to the directors and see how many interviews I can schedule. So I just didn’t really get to do all of that this year. But when you guys are there next year, I will be carrying my GoPro on camera talking to you in person. That would be awesome.
Oh, I would love that. I would love that. I’m so excited for this whole adventure. Someone called me maybe a year no, not even a year ago. Like, a couple of months ago, someone called me up and said, you know what? I’d love to have the circus in my town. And his town was dallas. How do we make this happen? Like, okay. And we have started really working on it, and it looks like it’s going to happen in about six more months, but we’re really working on it, and it’s like, great, okay, you want to make this happen, and you want to create this whole dei module for your community? Let’s do this now. This becomes our community as well, and we expand and we join. Happy to do it.
And the one thing he’s it right. You got the act, you got everything that you’re the executive producer. So I think one of the hardest parts that I can think of with my limited imaginations with all this is traveling and kind of logistics because people don’t understand. It’s one thing for you to travel with your family, no matter how big what, like 810 people together, but lisa’s traveling through, and I know with cirque du soleil, every time I visit them, it’s like just you feel like it’s a shipping company. I mean, literally, it’s like a supply chain or something and boxes everywhere, their equipment. So would that be like the hardest part is to put people in hotel rooms, like all these accommodations or those are pretty straightforward. I don’t know.
Hotel room is not so hard.
But the whole logistics of everything, it’s insane. I mean, that’s really the ultimate challenge. If you ever play Tetris where all the little blocks have to stack, it’s very much like that. It’s like a Tetris and a Rubik’s Cube combined because all the pieces have to be it’s like the world’s largest puzzle. And how does the lighting fit and the sound fit? And all these pieces have to come together and you have to have good people at every level. And also with our model of complete inclusion, we’ll hire the absolute best people. But then I also make sure that I’m pairing people with interns that are from a community that have not had the opportunity, because if you go out and look in the world of circus or technical theater, there aren’t people with disabilities, there aren’t people of color in the world because the doors have been closed to them until now. So we want to make sure to open those doors so that people can learn and grow and move into these positions and go out into the world. How many people are it’s a very complex logistical machine. Yeah.
How many people are you traveling with? Let’s say the show that’s traveling at Lincoln Center and then go to Arizona actors yes.
Lincoln center is pretty small because they’re providing all of the tech. So we have a company of about 15 Arizona. We’re traveling with 18 people. I believe last year at Cap One Hall in Tyson’s, we had a company of 25.
We were joking the other day that if our tour becomes such that we have to get a tour bus. Can you imagine having to buy a tour bus that accommodates wheelchairs, that accommodate lighting cues and access for the death? Like a completely accessible tour bus? Wouldn’t that be like some tour bus companies are going to have to gift us one because there’s no way in heck we’re ever going to come up with that kind of money.
Yeah, right. And then also painting the imagine traveling on the tour bus drive all around North America. Who knows where else you could go with Omnium Circus, like, painted on the outside, like the purple and the yellow. Oh my God. It’s just exciting for me to even think about it that way.
Dream. That would be so fun. Originally, we were planning on doing a show and the logistics of that got crazy. We may do that again one day. You never know.
Yeah, true. So this has been such a really high, such an uplifting, wonderful conversation on a Monday morning. This is fantastic, guys. And I get this question all the time, like, Fay, why go live? And this is why. It’s completely unrehearsed, guys. And restream. The software I’m using makes it not only possible, but super easy. I just set it up within the restream studio. I don’t mess around with it like OBS or anything. And now the conversation is broadcasted on all the social media under Phase World permanently on Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube and we can like link each other at least. I’ll send all the links to you, but I just want to mention that trying to demystify the difficulties of somehow going live and this is very possible. Lisa, before we part ways, what are some of the parting words and for people maybe you are watching right now, 510 people. And what do you want them to remember to take away with the best thing?
I think what I would like to I don’t know, let’s see, what would I like you to take away? I would like for you to take away a little piece of joy in your heart and a little piece of just join us, come see the shows, join in whatever way we talked about before, but omnium means of all and belonging to all. And we really, really want to welcome everyone quote under the big top, whether it’s a tent or an arena or whatever it is, but please join us and take a little bit of the joyful inclusion with you into the rest of your life and into the rest of the world. So when you see somebody on the street, instead of the previously learned judgment of pity, which is a four letter word, you’ll say, oh wow, that person must have an interesting life. I wonder what their perspective is. So take a little bit of that joy with you into the rest of the world and that openness and see you at the circus. I hope.
Yay guys, see you at the circus. Please learn more. I’ve included links in the comments in the description. Join in, spread the word, tell others about it, bring a friend if you want to go alone, bring a friend. So we’ll be wonderful. Thank you so much. Lisa, I’m going to take us offline now.
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