I’ve read that it takes four to six weeks to develop a new habit, which is to say, it takes four to six weeks to normalize a new behavior. We’ve all been under stay-at-home lockdown orders for…a solid five weeks and counting. Our personal interactions have been shrunk down to pixelated screens and a desperate faith in the power and consistency of our Wi-Fi. I even went on a first date, that ultimate personal trial, via Zoom. (Pro tip: please, don’t eat a plate of raw cauliflower during the date. Please.) I’ve also been reviewing live theater as it’s now performed: over video. This remains a deeply weird experience, but what the hell? Let’s all try this new adventure with good faith and a long pour of pinot grigio.
I logged in to Zoom to watch/participate as the Rainbow Militia, a local, female-run circus company, launched the Rainbow Ruckus event series. The audience all sat at our pandemic-socialization locations (mine is in my closet), with our respective pours of adult beverages (the aforementioned pinot grigio), and watched our tiny screens, as the performers played to the blank eye of their smartphone cameras. I will comment again on the tremendous *weirdness* of watching things in this communal experience. We are NOT together, but we sort of are, but then again definitely not. This bears remarking upon yet again.
My initial impression of the whole experience is that absolutely everyone on Zoom is much, much prettier than I am and has cheekbones that I would commit adultery for. I spent a solid ten minutes watching the other silent audience members, waiting for something to start. The whole event got a lot more interesting when I realized that it was not actually happening on Zoom but was being broadcast on Facebook Live; we were all just on the Zoom meeting to have the social experience of watching together. I logged into Facebook and the production value skyrocketed—actual performances were happening!
The theme of Rainbow Ruckus is “Colorado Community” and the performances are collaborations between local musicians and local performing artists. The musician contributes their original music to a circus artist, who choreographs an act and performs it for the live audience. It’s pretty amazing, as a community experience. I don’t think there needs to be a lot of discussion about the fact that we cannot use pre-pandemic standards to judge pandemic performances. Yes, the sound quality is often lacking. Yes, the video value is frequently shaky and always narrow. Such is the inherent vice of this beast–and we must learn to embrace it.
I saw artists performing on Cyr wheel on a vacant playground; I saw dancers perform in their living room, furniture pressed up against the walls; aerialists performed on metal scaffolds in their backyards, garden sheds visible in the background. The performances were professional and enjoyable, and I found that knowing that the music was also bespoke and local added a lot to the experience. I even jotted down a couple of notes about looking up more music from some of the artists in the future.
Here’s the thing: I’ve long talked about the magic of experiencing live performances in communal settings and, even squeezed down through the Xfinity’s fiber-optic cables, the magic still lives on. I found the Rainbow Ruckus to be deeply enjoyable and also entertaining. The only really tricky bit about this review is that…we are all spending so very much time on our screens already. After a day of working on my computer and gazing out at the Colorado springtime that’s happening outside my window, the thought of staying indoors for yet another Zoom conference call is challenging. But if you’re going to log in and watch something, skip over the Netflix garbage and rest your eyeballs on the best of Colorado’s performing artists and musicians. The next one happens on May 2. Performances stream live on Facebook, YouTube ,and Twitch, and people can donate/tip performers at their PayPal. All proceeds are split amongst the artists.