Jaron Hollander has a keen sense of what makes something visceral.
His latest show at Oakland’s Kinetic Arts Center puts passionate energy at the heart of the production, and their latest piece, entitled “Inversion: Circus Disobedience” running through Dec. 18th, follows the same pattern.
Berkeley native Hollander, the Kinetic Arts artistic director and the director of the production, has tailored his show in the great tradition of Commedia dell’arte and artists such as Dario Fo, an Italian dramatist whose legacy is filled with examples of taking on establishments through his expertise in agit prop and farcical theatre.
“Fo talks about characters of appetite that are driven by one of the seven deadly sins, an appetite for things like sex, money, power and food, but he also believed that people have an appetite for justice,” said Hollander, 43, a graduate of both UC Santa Cruz and the Dell’arte School of Physical Theatre. “This show to me is about the appetite to rebel and overthrow any power that’s there.”
With the presidential election decided, the show is quite timely, yet Hollander is clear that through the show, he does not take any political sides in the debates that now rage from coast to coast.
“It doesn’t seem to matter what Donald Trump is against, as long as he’s against something, people want to rally behind it,” said Hollander. “I’m not drawing any political lines and I have no agenda. We are looking at the exploration of that drive but not the cause. This is not a political cause.”
It is fair to compare what Kinetic does to Cirque du Soleil, which Hollander says is probably the closest reference that people have context for. A Kinetic show has a character driven story, a complex narrative that is heavier than most dance pieces but lighter than theatre. And utilizing Commedia’s stock characters, such as the miser, the silly young lovers and the very hungry servant, help bring the storyline into a much deeper focus for the audience.
“The show is not just somebody doing tricks or aerials on a trapeze, but a show where the world is changed, the characters are changed, the audience is transformed,” said Hollander. “Finding the beauty is important for me. When I create and do my circus production, I deal heavily in drama; the characters have stakes and a journey. They have desires, and I try to keep that tangible and logical and not let it get lost in the metaphor, so the performance does not become just symbolic.”
Hollander’s life in performance started when he was very young with his mother, who was a costume designer. His playground existed in the various back stages that his mother worked in, which gave him full access to all kinds of costumes and sets. He had a first hand look at all aspects of production, and for him, the minutiae of creating theatre was intoxicating.
“I put a lot of weight into all aspects of performance, both technical and artistic,” said Hollander. “That’s a big influence for me as a director, I love putting an audience in a rich environment with well-designed sound that supports the performance.
Hollander continued to study physical theatre, performing with Cirque du Soleil even. He is a multi-disciplinarian, honing his craft in both clown and circus school, and performing around the world with circuses. Now as the artistic director, his vision of the company has been crafted in through his various skills, allowing him to advocate for his audience.
“The circus itself is essentially a live experience, with the element of extreme human skill with actual risk, or at least a very mitigated risk, things that are physically beyond the ability of what most people think they can ever do.”
WHAT TO KNOW IF YOU GO
Kinetic Arts Center presents “Inversion: Circus Disobedience”
Directed by Jaron Hollander
Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 18th
785 7th Street
Oakland, CA 94607
Tickets range from $24 to $75
For tickets, call (510) 444-4800 or visit www.kineticartsproductions.com
For more information, visit www.kineticartscenter.com