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In the city there are men, women and children. In the city there are those who have much and those who have nothing; those who go unnoticed and those who disturb. In the city there are those who have eyes but can't see, ears but can't hear. In the city there are those who are not accounted for, and there are the heroes of the everyday struggle. In the city there's a kind of wildlife, from the beggar to the painter and the street entertainer, that brings enchantment to our world on the road to disenchantment. And, in the city, there is Saltimbanco… (The chair that is seen at the start and end of the production symbolizes the invitation to the spectator. As a symbol of hope and the desire for a better world for future generations, the Child King takes this place.)

The world we enter in Saltimbanco is one unlike any other - even in a Cirque-centric universe. At the start, the entire arena is covered in a large white sheet, which hangs there like a sentinel in waiting, hiding the joys and sorrows of the world. It parts to reveal a world rich in color and texture. The stage and its environs are reminiscent of a bright, fantastic forest - rich, bright blues and greens dominate in eye-popping colors. And the inhabitants of this world are straight out of an iridescent comic book. The dynamism, diversity and unbridled energy of the big city and its exuberant fauna are expressed in the colours of the costumes in Saltimbanco. As far from gloomy as possible, the dazzling array of primary colours - magenta, cyan, yellow, and green - convey the effervescence and buzz of the metropolis.

The colors in Saltimbanco are eye-popping, but the Baron warns us - "Juzoom, Joozoom!" - that this world of color isn't all happiness and joy. Saltimbanco is an antidote to the violence and despair of the 20th Century, they say, and when the covering is removed, we are introduced to the proposed new vision of urbanity, one overflowing with optimism and happiness!

The acts flow one after the other as this mythic fable unfolds. But, again, not through any traditional sense of a story line. There is no lost child who carries through to catharsis; no sad hunchback who tells us his tales of lost love and desire. But instead, a kaleidoscope of characters, and images, that lead us to a perhaps brighter future. Dominated by two species - the Worms and the Baroques - the world of Saltimbanco is a rich one, indeed. The Worms are the nameless, faceless many who aspire to be better than they are, to transcend the low social strata. The Baroques are the antithesis - with a deeply perceptive sense of the world around them. The Worms spend their time in trying to achieve the status of Baroque.

There is a certain simplicity, too, to this show. It is full of a child-like wonder and amazement. It is an exploration, and celebration, of imagination run wild, and perhaps less complicated and more playful than any of Cirque's other creations. Which is not to say that the dark side doesn't linger just beyond the horizon - Death makes an appearance at one point, and there are those who would steal the joy. But all in all, it is a playful, beautiful show, yet always aware of its own mortality.


Cloche et Présentation

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