Blue Man Group announces Shanghai show

By Sun Shuangjie Source:Global Times Published: 2016/7/19 18:13:00

Curiosity, improv and lots of body paint

There is a special group of creatures on the planet that spare no effort bringing fun to people.

They look like aliens with painted blue skin, and usually appear in black pajamas. Their eyes are often wide with curiosity, and wherever they go, they interact those around them, not through words but music, dance and tricks. If people feel happy with them, their mission is accomplished.

They are known as Blue Man Group, a performance art company established in 1991 in New York.

Over the past 25 years, they have been to 300 cities around the world and have performed for more than 35 million audience.

Its multiple production teams maintain a busy schedule, presenting an astonishing 3,600 performances per year.

In 1992, it won the Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience, and the group garnered a Grammy nomination for music they made during a rock concert tour.

They played on The Tonight Show and The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and most recently they announced that they will play in Shanghai in November.

Scenes from the Blue Man show Photos: Courtesy of Lindsey Best 2015 Blue Man Productions

Get high with Blue Man

The atmosphere of a Blue Man show is often highly exciting and interactive.

They use every possible kind of prop - paint, pipes, balloons, even toilet paper - and present all kinds of performances from singing, dancing, clowning and acrobatics to create a unique theatrical experience for the audience.

Moreover, a big part of the show is audience interaction, including moments when audience members are invited onto the stage.

It's hard to define a Blue Man show with common categorization like comedy, concert or acrobatics, as it involves all of them.

Sometimes they emphasize the music, while sometimes it can be a serious theater production that leads people to think.

Phil Stanton, a co-founder of Blue Man Group, once said the inspiration for Blue Man is that they're designed as innocent as children who always have a curious mind toward surroundings amid this fast-changing society.

So as boundless as their curiosity is, Blue Man show will always create surprises for the audience.

Meridian is the captain of Blue Man Group, and he enjoys what he experiences during different shows.

"As the world around us changes, as new technologies are invented, as new creative impulses happen in the world, we are constantly influenced by those changes. So over the 25 years, the show has been constantly evolving, there are new elements in the show, new technology and new entertaining bits in the show, but what remains the same for our entire time is our curiosity about the world and about the society," Meridian told the Global Times.

"Everywhere we have brought the show, people understand the character and understand what the Blue Man is about, because even if the show comes from somewhere very far away, the show is about something we all share. It's about our desire to connect with each other, and our desire to celebrate all that's wonderful about life together," he added.

Versatile performers

Meridian comes from a background of classical piano and theater and is a great fan of Charlie Chaplin. He said that when he saw that Blue Man show that combines music and silent comedy, he set forth to become a Blue Man actor.

Like Meridian, many people from different backgrounds, such as music and dance and other fields, have come to audition to join the Blue Man Group. And Meridian said that those who are chosen share some special characteristics.

"It's not necessarily about what we've done before; it has something to do with our inner curiosity about the world and our very sense of playing. You know, the Blue Man show is very playful and we're bit of a trickster as well as an experimenter," Meridian said.

The intense improvisation during the show requires a rigid training system to ensure the atmosphere during the show is always high.

In New York, it has training facilities where all actors must practice with several different props and tricks.

"Sometimes you're trained like a clown; you're doing exercises that are comedy-based, and other times it's more serious; it's all those things. It's a process sort of taking off one mask - the mask we wear as a human walking around and interacting with everyone - and just the core things that make us human: our desire to connect, our desire to celebrate with each other, and our desire to find out more about the world around us," Meridian said.

"That's why it's so exciting to be somewhere like Shanghai where it's all new to us, so we're really excited to go around and explore."

Meridian added that Blue Man Group will absorb some local elements for the Shanghai tour.

Date: November 16 to December 4

Venue: SAIC Shanghai Culture Square


Address: 36 Yongjia Road 永嘉路36号

Tickets: 80 yuan ($11.94) to 788 yuan

Call 6472-6000 to book tickets

Posted in: Metro Shanghai, Theater, Culture

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