"You juggler! You cankerblossom! You thief of love!"

Working with the SF Shakes Midsummer Tour is remarkable.  Beyond bringing art, theatre, Shakespeare to a variety of ages and backgrounds (for which I am honored and privileged)- I also get to work with an astoundingly talented and generous group of young actors. Like a band of superheroes, we all have widely different talents and backgrounds- and many a van conversation has centered around how we can benefit and learn from each other's skillsets.

This is Tristan Cunningham.  Not only a versatile and smart actress, but it just so happens she's trained in circus since she was ten.  It  should come as no surprise that she plays Puck.  Backflipping, cartwheeling, and juggling- all while delivering lines of text... Tristan astounds her audiences and fellow cast members on a daily basis.

Today, Tristan was generous enough to invite us to her studio and indulge us in a basic acro/juggling class. We kicked, cartwheeled, stood on our hands, juggled and spun plates.  Tristan gave us helpful feedback, and many of us accomplished things we'd never thought possible.  None of us were fantastic, but Tristan created such a positive environment we were all excited and empowered to try.  At the end of class, we were sweaty and tired- but all wondering when we could do more.  Especially since Tristan pulled out the tissues and swings right at the end- saying perhaps... perhaps we'd look at some aerial stuff next week.

I've never thought about circus before, I'm sure most of the cast hadn't- but Tristan's grace and command of her physicality inspired us to push ourselves into a different direction. To be excited about what we could possibily accomplish.  To understand and appreciate a new form of expression.

I've never been the strongest, and I have several bad memories of childhood gymnastics plaguing me-- but if I can do a handstand by the end of the tour... I will be satisfied. (and flabbergasted)