Articles

Fooling Around at a Participatory Performance Party

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Franz explores a nun’s trials in a cabaret number in Circus of Dreams at Bizarre Bushwick (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic).

Last Wednesday, House of Screwball’s show at Bizarre Bushwick coincided with the annual, farcical opportunity provided by April Fools’ Day. House of Screwball, a group that organizes interactive performances that often morph into parties, has been hosting Circus of Dreams on the first Wednesday of each month for the past two years, galvanizing an irreverent arts community in Bushwick. Usually, the show has no theme besides absurdity, incorporating performances as dissimilar as stand-up, burlesque, and pantomime.

This month’s edition, the “Beautifool Awards Show,” featured hosts Lolo Haha, Susannah Simpson, and Darcey Leonard honoring performing fools in several categories with sponge trophies. The categories included “Fool with the Best French Accent,” which was awarded in a tie to the Bizarre’s owners, Jean-Stephane Sauvaire and Greg Baubeau.

Circus of Dreams’ perennial headliner Matthew Silver spoke of the holiday as a reawakening on his Twitter. In the first act of the evening, he emerged onstage in a unicorn one-piece as a hybrid character admiring itself with the help of a selfie stick. Silver’s mug emerged, eventually imploring the audience, “Fart your heart!” The audience began to blow raspberries toward Silver with “Fart Your Heart” cardboard banners in hand. This declaration triumphed, catalyzing a shared, whimsical experience.

While performance art can sometimes pretend to be more accessible than it actually is, Circus of Dreams promises a participatory party to a packed house. The parade of ribald performers that followed Silver included Felix Morelo, Victor Sheely, Franz, Courtney Leigh Novak, Borts Minorts, Fritz Donnelly, Katrina Mitilenes, Lindsee Lonesome, and Wild Torus, winner of the evening’s award for “Fools Most Likely to Literally Transport You to Another Dimension.”

Silver plays a central role in bringing the House of Screwball’s community together, receiving a shout-out from almost every other performer. Kevin Pelrine, House of Screwball’s technical director, wishes for their parties to become “a beacon to the weird and wonderful people and performers, who have interesting and unique things to share.” With its diverse stable of fools, the Circus of Dreams’ exhilarating events are poised to continue keeping Bushwick weird.

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Matthew Silver takes a selfie of his resurrected form.
Silver holds a doll up to the microphone, imploring to the audience, “Fart Your Heart.”
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The venue’s disco ball glimmers over Felix Morelo’s helmet of many masks.
Performer carries Courtney Leigh Novak  during her cathartic performance.
Performer carries Courtney Leigh Novak during her performance.
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Lolo Haha, Susannah Simpson, and Darcey Leonard announce a Beautyfool Award winner at Bizarre Bushwick.
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Fritz Donnelly leads the crowd in a raucous performance exercise.
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Borts Minorts performs an abstract movement piece to Chet Baker’s “My Funny Valentine.”
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Wild Torus’s closing set melts faces.

Circus of Dreams takes place at Bizarre Bushwick on the first Wednesday evening of each month.

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