Kings carny: ‘Brooklyn Abridged’ circus show debuts in Manhattan

Up and away: Williamsburg’s Bindlestiff Family Cirkus will swing from ropes and stand on ladders at its Brooklyn-themed circus show, debuting in Manhattan on May 30.
David Lee

They fly through the borough with the greatest of ease!

A new show will use live music, slapstick comedy, and high-flying acrobatics to take guests on a journey through Brooklyn — in Manhattan. The latest production from Williamsburg’s Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, “Brooklyn Abridged,” swinging into the Connelly Theater on the distant isle of Manhattan on May 30, will pay tribute to Kings County through a spectacular circus display, said the show’s co-creator.

“We’re paying homage to the do-it-yourself circus scene that has grown out of Brooklyn over the years, which we were at the forefront of for a long time,” said Keith Nelson. “We’re also paying homage to the interesting individuals in Brooklyn, from artists to steel workers, as well as the diversity that makes Brooklyn what it is.”

The show will feature jaw-dropping acrobatic performances, said Nelson, including multiple trapeze acts, a trip up an unsupported ladder, and a daring walk across an elevated slack wire. The daring young athletes perform against a backdrop that echoes some of the Brooklyn’s most notable landmarks, from its namesake bridge to the iconic rides of Coney Island, according to Nelson.

“The show is based a lot around the Brooklyn Bridge,” he said. “It’s really a strong piece of the show. We also talk about the 20-or-so people who died in the construction of the bridge, so we’re exploring some darker elements as well.”

Everything about the show is intertwined with Kings County, said Nelson, except the theater hosting to the performance.

“We couldn’t find a space in Brooklyn,” he said. “Brooklyn has become more expensive than Manhattan — and I’m only half joking.”

Nelson wishes the show could have debuted in the borough from which it draws its inspiration, but says that the 100-seat venue provides a perfect setting for this dazzling display.

“It is a really amazing venue. It’s not quite dilapidated, but it’s an old theater with a ton of character,” he said. “It’s also one of those places that is still very accessible, both in terms of geography, and also in that you’re not walking into this giant palace. It’s more intimate, so we can keep ticket prices lower, and everyone can experience the art.”

If all goes well throughout the show’s 11-day run, Bindlestiff hopes they will find another home to keep the show swinging.

“We’re hoping to get a longer run, ideally in Brooklyn, because that would be more fitting to do ‘Brooklyn Abridged’ in Brooklyn,” said Nelson. “But you’ve got to take the show to whatever venue you can.”

“Brooklyn Abridged” at the Connelly Theater (220 E. Fourth St. between Avenue A and Avenue B in the East Village in Manhattan, www.connellytheater.org). May 30–June 9, Wed-Thu at 7 p.m., Fri at 8 p.m., Sat; 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., Sun at 3 p.m. $35 ($30 in advance).

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at agraham@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow him at twitter.com/aidangraham95.
A tight balance: The dazzling circus show “Brooklyn Abridged” is inspired by the borough of Kings, but will debut across the river, on the distant isle of Manhattan.
David Lee

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