Local company Moon Ballad Circus opens The Red Shoes, a theatrical fire show, at the Ottawa Fringe Festival on June 18th. Brian Carroll interviewed performers Zoe Georgaras and Sarah Healy about the show.
What is The Red Shoes?
Healy: The Red Shoes – it’s an old story that we read in a book called Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. The book is about wild women archetypes. It was one of our first inspirations for the show.
Georgaras: She’s a storyteller and an academic. She will tell a story from folklore about different wild women in mythology. Then she will analyze it from an academic perspective.
The Red Shoes was one of them. We liked this story and decided to do a reinterpretation of it. The three of us: me (Zoe), Sarah and our other co-creator Jesse (Godland) started playing around with The Red Shoes story and it morphed into something much different and much more fiery and theatrical. An original play.
Healy: And a fire show, because primarily we are fire dancers.
Given that the show involves fire, how else are you trying to be the hottest show at the Fringe?
Georgaras: We also have an Australian contortionist.
We are going to move audiences with our beautiful visuals, imagery, dance and our lovely themes. We want people to feel a sensation of hope, inspiration and empowerment. We want people to be taken away by beauty and joy. Not just in the head, but leaving people with this sizzling sensation and these vibrations in their bodies.
Healy: We’ll draw them into a mythological realm that we set up like a night circus, kind of an arena, so we can tell our story under the night sky, by the Byward Market.
Georgaras: It’s the intersection of fire dance and theatre. And it’s also at the intersection of William and York.
Your Facebook page talks about the light of the moon. The show runs from June 18th to 25th. Full moon is June 20th. How did the moonlight become part of your planning?
Georgaras: As we are doing a theatrical fire show and it’s going to be an outdoor venue, the moon is our spotlight. The moon is our lighting for the show.
The (full) moon is also a very appropriate time for a coven of witches to gather and plot and spell-cast and be merry under the moon.
As well, the moon is very linked to the cycle of women. Our story is about different wild women archetypes.
Byward Market is being very accommodating to your show. Where are they letting you perform? How are they assisting you?
Georgaras: We are performing at William Square, which is the intersection of William and York, also known as the square in front of Mother Tucker’s, where the market stalls are.
They’re setting up, for us, bleachers, black drapes, tents for the ticket salesperson and our backstage. And gates so that we can create a pop-up theatre, travelling circus-style. They love it; we love it. We’re very happy to be working together.
One of the characters that you refer to is Baba Yaga. Who is Baba Yaga? Why is she part of this show?
Healy: Baba Yaga is an old hag from the forest, in folklore. She’s the goddess of life and death … and life. She brings this theme of cycles and rebirth into the show. She’s traditionally a quite terrifying character who eats children.
But in our play, we also see the light side of Baba Yaga. She’s kind of a freaky creature from the forest who bends and contorts in different ways. Casts magic spells and has quite a handle on the mythological realm that we create in the show.
Why The Red Shoes?
Georgaras: Different symbolism in our show. There’s fire, which is seen as very wild and free and untamed. Shoes seem to be like the opposite. They confine your feet. They keep you safe from the elements, from glass on the ground. That is a duality that we are creating. Red – the colour of fire. Red shoes. Merging these together and exploring what those struggles are. What the differences are between…
Healy: …the two worlds…
Georgaras: …a merging of two worlds.
What happens if it rains?
Georgaras: That’ll be determined by how heavily it is raining. A little bit of water certainly won’t put out the fire toys, because the fire is very powerful. There’s a lot of fire. If it’s pouring, people wouldn’t want to sit out and watch it.
If there’s lightning and thunder, we will cancel the show. And if it’s pouring rain.
But a little drizzle, people can bring their umbrellas.
This interview has been edited for length.
The Red Shoes by Moon Ballad Circus is playing at the Ottawa Fringe Festival at William & York in the Byward Market. June 18, 19, 21, 23, 24 and 25 at 9:00PM. The show is classified PG. Tickets are $12 at the gate. For more information, see the Ottawa Fringe website.