Are You Not Entertained?

After we finished dinner, our party went across the hall and upstairs to the theater room (where we had services earlier this afternoon) and sat down at the back of the hall to watch a circus show put on by the hotel for our group. As someone who is a fond practitioner of the creative arts as well as an avid viewer of them, it was interesting to see the way that the performers engaged in behavior that was quite dangerous, and though there is no doubt that such a show as they provided was very well practiced, at the same time there was not as much margin for error in their performances as would have been viewed as safe for the United States, which made it all the more impressive but also all the more hazardous.

The circus show was a show in three acts. The first act began with the rapid-fire announcing of the fact that there was such a show, the first of several apparently, being provided for our group by the hotel staff. Then five people, three men and two women, each of them in their own distinctive costume, proceeded to dance around the stage and show off some element of their talents. Included were various dance moves, some of them deliberately humorous, juggling, and the like. Each of the performers had their own place in the sun, and then they exited the stage to applause.

The second act of the three was by far the longest. Each of the individual performers who had shown off some element of their talent before came on again one-by-one for a longer performance, often set to music, that showed their talents in more dramatic and often very risky ways. The first gentleman came out with a large hoop and proceeded to spin himself with his hands, feet, and head while moving around and spinning rapidly, only occasionally showing how he was generating the energy for his rapid spins. The first lady then came to a smaller hoop and proceeded to balance herself and perform a complex gymnastics routine elevated some way above the floor of the theater, demonstrating considerable strength in both her arms and legs. The second gentleman then proceeded to do a mime show, being awfully demanding about applause at the beginning of the act and then working hard to deserve it through more feats of balancing balls on pipes and spinning balls of all numbers and varieties, and even inviting people on the stage to help him with various parts of his act. This was followed by the second lady, who proceeded to demonstrate a great deal of strength and balance while wrapping a cloth around her and moving up and down that cloth and even dividing it to show herself doing splits and other acrobatic feats on it, to well-deserved applause. Finally, the third gentleman performed a juggling routine.

The third and final act had the five performers come out and bow and the announcer return to tell us that this was but the first of several shows that we would have over the course of the next few days. All told, the show lasted a bit less than an hour. And though I was impressed at the feats performed by the performers, I was left with a complicated feeling about the show as a whole. How does the show view us as observers, most of us American? As someone who tends to have rather complex views on entertainers and entertainment, I found myself with complicated feelings about the show and about the performers, and complicated feelings about my own role as an observer of the proceedings. Why is it so elusive to simply be able to enjoy, without having to deal with all of the complications resulting from life in a fallen world?

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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