Salisbury Press

Monday, November 11, 2019

‘Art of Circus’ spans hundreds of years

Friday, January 26, 2018 by LUKE MUENCH Special to The Press in Focus

At his core, lead producer and creator Tad Empage has a deep passion and appreciation for the arts.

“I’ve always been interested in the arts,” Empage explains in a phone interview. “I was a painter when I first arrived in New York City, started getting involved in theater. Art has always been with me, even before performing arts became my career. I wanted to honor the visual arts in which we find in life.”

Empage conceptualized “Art of Circus,” which will be presented at 8 p.m. 26, State Theatre Center for the Arts, Easton.

This performance is a collaboration of paintings, theater, dance, acrobatics, and more, trying to display as many forms of art as possible. The first of these that Empage chose to focus on was music, namely that of Jesse Elder.

“Our paths had crossed on other projects, and when I found out he had a history in visual arts, I knew he was the perfect person to approach about the show.

“We found the time to chat, and a light went off, and we both got to work furiously. We put together the show in a matter of months. He did the score, and then I went into the choreography of the scenes for the show.”

Edler is best-known for his tours with the band, Post Modern Jukebox, and his performances of jazz music around the world, including at Radio City Music Hall, New York City.

Much of Edler’s work, for “Art of Circus,” is meant to reflect the various paintings on display.

“I would describe his work as a combo of jazz and classical, but he [Elder] brings in the instrumentation and feel of the time periods. They’re modern takes with nods to the era the paintings were birthed in. It’ll have nods to the music innovations of that time told in a contemporary way, beautiful pieces that are for the ages,” says Empage.

While the music creates the ambiance, the various artists Empage chose act as the set pieces to inform what the actors are doing on stage.

“It’s a collection of vignettes. In the show as a whole, 30 artists from the last 500 years are attributed, each rendered in a different way. We either explore the art they are most known for, the time period, or we bring the actual painting to life.”

Empage hopes to present some of the best and brightest through well-known and impressive works.

“Most people will recognize many of these, like Picasso or Van Gogh. They inspired us personally, while also being recognized by the public.”

Empage hopes that audiences learns about new, interesting and impressive works in the process, as he expects there will be something on display for everyone, even children.

“People think shows for families are only for kids. This is a show for all ages. This is a beautiful entry into the visual arts for younger audiences, and it’s an adult show. I think that, far too often, people pander down to kids, but they don’t need to. Kids can rise up to what is also relevant to adults.”

“Art of Circus” strives to put as many forms of creativity on display to show what beautiful things can be made when they work in tandem.

“Art is timeless, and all arts relate to one another as they relate to life. It may be 500 years old, but it has the essence of being about people and community.

“That’s what matters. We take music, dance, circus, visual arts, and bring them together and make it present, as universal ideas.”

Tickets: State Theatre Center for the Arts box office, 453 Northampton St., Easton;; 1-800-999-7828; 610-252-3132