Duncan Wall, son of CWEA Board Member Mark Wall and his wife Claudia will be in town tomorrow evening to introduce his new book, The Ordinary Acrobat, shown prominently displayed at Left Bank Books, above. The anything-but-ordinary book signing (see why below) will take place at the Mad Art Gallery in Soulard starting at 7 p.m.
Claudia Wall said Duncan attended Iowa University and spent his junior year abroad at the Center for Critical Studies in Paris. That's when his interest in the circus (which bored him as a child) began. Duncan currently lives in Montreal where he teaches circus history at The National Circus School of Montreal. He's primarily a writer and also an actor who has performed with the Candidatos, a modern clown-theater company he founded. His play "I'm Sorry and I'm Sorry" was performed at the Minneapolis Fringe Festival in 2005, the Dublin Film Festival in 2006 and, closer to home, at the Clayton Black Box theater in 2007.
Later, Duncan lived in Europe for about a year and eventually won a Fullbright grant to study the circus. He enrolled at the National School for the Circus Arts in France, where he learned about the "nouveau cirque," or contemporary circus," a genre of performing art developed in the later 20th century in which a story or a theme is conveyed through traditional circus skills." The school offers classes in circus skills as an art-form that involve creative play and athleticism.
Published by Knopf and edited by Jonathan Segal, "The Ordinary Acrobat is a magical, funny, sometimes scary story of what happens when one average American joins a host of gifted (and flexible) international students in a rigorous regimen of tumbling, trapeze, juggling, and clowning."
In Nick Otten's interview with Duncan published in Friday's StLBeacon (read interview here), the author said that the circus arts have moved into the mainstream and become more familiar. He knows "dozens, if not hundreds, of 'ordinary acrobats' right now, people who work at a desk job as an architect or a school teacher and fly on a trapeze at night."
The book signing, a Circus Now event which promotes the circus as art will include performances by artists from our town's Circus Flora, Circus Harmony, and Bumbleshoots Aerial Arts, located on Gravois.
Meet the author Duncan Wall as he reads from The Ordinary Acrobat, Tuesday, March 19, at Mad Art Gallery, 2727 S. 12th. Doors open at 7, the performance begins at 7:30. $5 cover goes towards the purchase of the book, $26.95. Books provided by Left Bank Books.
Small world footnote: As is often the case when you are thinking of something, or in this case writing about someone, a related story shows up elsewhere. As I finally caught up on Sunday's NY Times last evening, there was the following opinion piece written by Duncan Wall in the Sunday Review section: "Moving Beyond The Big Tent."