A zombie invasion has compromised
humanity, sending the remaining survivors into hiding. They've found respite from
the terror that surrounds them inside safe areas around the world, but also
from an unlikely source.
A circus troupe called Flight is determined
to bring a sense of normalcy to their lives as it travels from city to city.
However, a security breach during a performance sets off a series of events
that puts everyone in danger.
Despite what you think, this isn't
an episode of The Walking Dead or an
upcoming horror film set against an apocalyptic background.
Photo by Justin Tooley
The Queen of the Dead, Peres, (this year played by Lisa Sangiorgio) commands her Undead Army.
It's the storyline for Flight of the Living Dead, a locally produced
Cirque-style show created by aerial artists and instructors Mary Brumbaugh and
Lisa Sangiorgio of Cirque Indy, an Indianapolis-based aerial circus arts school.
The interactive, sensory-rich
production featuring aerialists, dancers, zombies, monsters, lights, silks,
hoops and other pageantry runs March 5-7 at the Athenaeum in downtown
This, however, is not the first
time the streets have been overtaken by creatures that lurk in the night. Flight premiered for a two-night run in
2013, and Indianapolis responded.
"We sold out both nights, and had
to turn people away that first night," says Brumbaugh. "There were people
fighting for tickets outside the door."
Part of the show's draw is the cultlike fascination people have with zombies and the
popularity that aerial arts is gaining thanks to performers like Pink (who has
incorporated aerial routines into her live performances while singing) and the
Quebec-based company Cirque du Soleil.
Brumbaugh and Sangiorgio were pleased
with the response from the show's inaugural year, especially considering that
the original idea was simply to put on a variety show for students at a local studio
where Brumbaugh was teaching classes.
"We thought it would be interesting
if we did an event for the studio and gave everybody an opportunity to
perform," says Sangiorgio, who was one of Brumbaugh's students at that time.
"We really wanted to show off people's skills."
also fulfilled an interactive project assignment for Sangiorgio during her
senior year as a design student at Herron School of Art.
"We created a variety show, with a very
loose theme and plot," adds Brumbaugh, about the original production. "It was
more like separate acts, kind of tied together around a loose theme of monsters
in a post-apocalyptic age."
Although the show
was a success, they took heed to audience feedback and tweaked the original before
deciding to return Flight back to the
"This time, the story has developed
a lot. (That) was the biggest feedback that we got from the audience is that
they didn't understand what was going on (story-wise)," says Brumbaugh, who has
trained at cirque schools from Louisville to Los Angeles. "For this iteration,
we worked really hard to build a cohesive storyline so that the audience could
come on this journey with us. We've been working with professional actors to
flesh out the dialogue and the characters are more developed."
Photo by Justin Tooley
Darcy Townes Flight of the Living Dead.
Sangiorgio says they've added a backstory
about the circus and how it came to be, and beefed up the interaction between
the cast and the audience. There also are more than 30 local performers this
year, and the show has been moved from a repurposed church sanctuary to a
full-fledged stage in a real theater.
"This really is a community
production," says Brumbaugh.
She admits that neither she nor
Sangiorgio, a graphic designer who began taking aerial classes to shake up her
workout routine, had any previous experience putting together a stage
production before they wrote, directed and produced Flight.
"It originally was a huge
challenge," says Brumbaugh, who was studying engineering at IUPUI before
leaving to pursue her love of dance. "We're experienced in choreography but not
in production. We've done smaller shows and some variety shows, but this is the
first time that we'll be in a lighted theater with a sound tech, an arbour and
rigging. Producing is a whole other bear than performing."
The increased size and scale of
this year's show also increased the production's budget. In 2013, Brumbaugh and
Sangiorgio used their own money to produce Flight.
For the 2015 version, they created a Kickstarter campaign and sought
sponsorships from local companies to purchase costumes and set pieces.
In addition to being the
co-creators and producers of Flight of
the LivingDead, Brumbaugh and Sangiorgio have
roles in the show.
Brumbaugh plays Marley, "a cheeky
little clown (not scary with big shoes, but more acrobat
with face/clown paint). She's kind of
saucy and likes to stir up trouble with her fellow clowns," she says.
Sangiorgio plays Peres, who leads
an undead infantry as the Queen of the Dead.
of the Living Dead is a huge accomplishment, considering that Cirque Indy is
first and foremost an aerial arts school that also offers aerial fitness
classes for adults.
Photo by Justin Tooley
Marley, one of Flight’s clowns (played by Mary Brumbaugh), performs on aerial silk.
It is Cirque Indy's first
full-scale production, but it won't be its last.
Brumbaugh says that all of the
instructors at Cirque Indy have a show inside of them that they will eventually
of the Living Dead is Sangiorgio's idea come to
"Mine is about going crazy ... losing
it," says Brumbaugh.
Although some people might have
called her crazy for leaving behind her original plan to become an engineer for
dance, she says she has no regrets.
"I love math and I love programming,
but it wasn't for me and I was really unhappy pursuing that," says Brumbaugh.
"... At some point, I had an epiphany and decided that it's OK to be something
else. It's OK to go for the things that I want to do. I might fail but at least
I know that I tried.
"(In the end), I don't think that
I'm going to have a single regret about starting a circus school and that I
performed. It's something that I can tell my grandkids about."
Flight of the Living Dead
When: 8 p.m. March 5, 6, 7. Doors open each night at 7 p.m.
Where: The Athenaeum, 401 E. Michigan St.
Cost: $20 general admission for all ages; $45 for front-row seats.
Info: For more information
or to purchase tickets, visit www.cirqueindy.com.
Bio: Shelby Roby-Terry has worked as a journalist for more than 20 years and served as a reporter and editor at several papers throughout Indiana and New Orleans, Louisiana. She is founder and owner of The Forty Group, an Indianapolis-based PR, Marketing and Event Planning agency. During her spare time, Shelby...Shelby Roby-Terry has worked as a journalist for more than 20 years and served as a reporter and editor at several papers throughout Indiana and New Orleans, Louisiana. She is founder and owner of The Forty Group, an Indianapolis-based PR, Marketing and Event Planning agency. During her spare time, Shelby loves reading, traveling and hanging out with family and friends. She also volunteers throughout the community and serves on several boards for local not-for-profit agencies.more