Alterra’s Midsummer Gala brings immersive creativity with a little help from Shakespeare

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When you think of a circus experience, a few elements might pop into your head. But with Cirque Du Nuit, an interactive professional circus arts company that specializes in unique theatrical, acrobatic and performances, you should expect the unexpected.

“There is a space for art like this that has a different tone and a different voice, and is less focused on one specific group of people or one specific audience,” says company founder and director Kaitlin Chin.

Chin started her performance training from a young age beginning classical ballet at the age of three, and modeling professionally at the age of nine for both print and runway. According to her bio, amongst her creative work, Kaitlin specializes in the creation of non-verbal, high-spectacle fantasy characters, such as living statues, mechanical dolls, fairies and aerial fantasy creatures. Her work as both a director and movement teacher focuses on creating unique interactions with patrons utilizing a creature-based movement style. Most recently, Kaitlin has served as circus director for Shakespeare in Clark Park.

Kaitlin Chin, Founder and DirectorProvided

For her company, her experience and love of showcasing the unique side of creativity comes into play quite often.

“I actually have an interest in making sure we are representing different performers across the board. I find that much more interesting and we create much more interesting work when we bring people from all over,” she says.

This Sunday, Aug. 22 starting at 3 p.m., Philadelphians can head to the company’s latest event that delivers a fresh new take on Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ where the guests are in on the action. As the release states, the players will take full advantage of the lush backdrop of local Glen Foerd mansion, it’s enchanting gardens, and sweeping views, for a one-night only experience. Part of the evening’s celebration includes unveiling the company’s new brand under the banner, Alterra.

“The name Alterra fits much more to me for where we are at and where we are going… we’re heading a little more away from that Brooklyn/scrappy vibe to a little more oh no, we produce events and we do this for real,” explains Chin. “The fundraising aspect is definitely a thing, we have opened a venue and we know people are excited to see content that we are producing on our own.”

The unveiling marks one motivational pull for the event, but it’s also acting as a fundraiser for the company, as Chin mentioned. It’s no secret the pandemic has halted many businesses in their tracks, especially those that live and breathe live performances.

“I cannot continue as a theater maker to live off of less than nothing. It’s really important to me that my performers also get paid reasonable dues, not just when they do performances but also for all of the other work that they do,” explains Chin. “Everything going into lockdown for 18 months is a great moment to consider everything that goes into the theater and how necessary it is.”

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The location of the event this upcoming weekend was very intentional as well. As Chin explains, the log-line for the company is “creating exciting art in unusual spaces and spending a lot of time looking at underserved spaces with underserved people.” Part of that is utilizing a space such as Glen Foerd as a space to create. This venue in particular was a no-brainer for Chin after stopping by the venue for a happy hour with her assistant.

“I like to think of myself of a very lazy performer where I look for what’s already pre-existing and then build off of that for inspiration,” says Chin. “I don’t feel the need to live in a world of complete pretend when truth is often more fantastical and exciting than fiction.”

So what can exactly be expected for the Gala this Sunday? Think a 27-foot aerial rig full of aerial silks (“My favorite,” remarks Chin), a table-scape full of treats, a custom cocktail bar, music, costumes (there will be accessories and such available to rent onsite from Trove costumes) and an unforgettable set of performances.

“It’s that you take a moment to put yourself into that mindset,” says Chin when talking about costumes. “There is a lot that we can do to help people step into that portal into a different world and a different universe, but if they take that moment beforehand to help themselves as well.” Chin also says some notable costumes in the past have ranged from bumblebees to pizza to dinosaur onesies….but just like the performances, it really is all open for interpretation.

For this specific event, you must be vaccinated and show proof of vaccination. Masks are also highly encouraged, but not mandatory outdoors. Chin will do whatever it takes to help keep theater alive in a safe, and highly gratifying way.

“There is a time and a place for digital content and we’ve definitely done that—and this is not that. If you created something for a specific medium, you’re going to want it in that medium,” says Chin. “One of the things that we’re aiming to do with this event is to create joy and to make space for people to experience joy and have a moment of lift and fun and experience community…that’s something that we’ve all been lacking. This is what we can give to you. ”

Rebecca Gudelunas

For more information on the newly branded Alterra and the Midsummer Gala, visit cirquedunuit.com

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