The idea of Cirque du Soleil may invite images of extravagant live shows with clowns, acrobats and fire eaters. The company is trying to change that.
Cirque du Soleil came out of the pandemic rough. So it decided to build a bigger, catastrophe-proof brand — aiming to sell not just shows, but sunglasses, perfumes, and video games, as my colleague Emma Goldberg wrote in a story documenting its transformation.
“Cirque is a funny example of an attempt at cultural reinvention, because I don’t even see circuses as trying to be relevant,” Emma told me. “They asked the question, ‘Why isn’t Gen Z interested in the circus?’ It almost feels rhetorical, it’s because 5-year-olds love the circus.”
The decision came after months of discussions with consultants. Because they were talking about the circus instead of, say, banking, people dropped phrases like, “I think there’s a real opportunity to elevate the art of clowning” and “Don’t focus on the Cirque, focus on the Soleil.”
Still, the meetings succeeded in giving Cirque du Soleil a sweeping plan to transform itself. This week, the company is releasing a video game on the popular game platform Roblox. It produced a show last month for Motorola to introduce a new phone. It’s working on a series of housewares (think psychedelic curtains) and a TV documentary series (current title: “Down to Clown”).
“They say, ‘Forget the circus. Forget about the red-nosed clown and the big top and the popcorn. Consider this an artistic statement,” Emma said. “And they’re trying to channel that into consumer product sales.”
Read Emma’s full story, with even more dazzling photos from Cirque du Soleil performances, to see how things are going with the changes.
Benjamin Netanyahu underwent unplanned heart surgery to implant a pacemaker. Doctors said afterwards that the Israeli prime minister was “doing very well”.
Netanyahu was expected to spend at least a day in hospital, raising uncertainty over his administration’s highly controversial plan to pass a law to curtail the judiciary tomorrow.
A mile-long column of protesters marched into Jerusalem to protest the proposal. Follow our updates.
In today’s election in Spain, the mainstream Conservatives may come out on top, but they most likely need hard-right allies to govern.
Mismanagement and US sanctions devastated Venezuela’s oil industry, leaving behind leaky pipelines and polluted neighborhoods.
Belarusian leader Aleksandr Lukashenko has continued to crack down on dissent since the crackdown on protests three years ago.
A man who was kicked out of a bar in Mexico for harassing women came back later and threw a firebomb at the club, killing at least 11 people, according to witnesses.
Other great stories
Social media algorithms deny young people the joys of exploration and discovery, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy argues.
Many men have trouble making new friends. An idea to ease this loneliness: go play pickleball, Michelle Cook say.
Smartphone apps and QR codes were supposed to make traveling easier. Instead they made it more annoying, Jessica Gross writes.
Sunday’s question: Should No Labels field a presidential candidate?
The group is effectively a surrogate for Trump because it can siphon off voters who are not enthusiastic about Biden, David Faris writes in Newsweek. But the Democrats are making the case against a third-party candidate strong enough to isolate Biden from the fallout, writes Aaron Blake in The Washington Post.
Magical Creatures: Studio Ghibli’s eccentric, enchanting animated films, theme park style.
Hollywood’s secret weapon: Ann Roth is the costume designer behind iconic looks in “Midnight Cowboy,” “Working Girl,” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”
Guessing fortune: Cheese is part of Switzerland’s identity. So why does it import more than it exports?
vows: She dreamed of finding love at Whole Foods, but instead she found it on Twitter.
lives lived: Richard Barancik was the last surviving member of the Allied unit known as the Monuments Men and Women, which preserved European artwork and cultural treasures looted by Nazi Germany. He died at the age of 98.
TALK | FROM THE MAGAZINE
Joyce Carol Oates, one of America’s greatest living writers, is the author of the new short story collection “Zero-Sum.” I spoke to Oates, who is 85, about the legacies we leave behind.
In your book ‘On Boxing’ you have a line about how life for fighters is about the fight and the rest just waits. Do you have that feeling when writing?
That is a good question. It refers to a philosophical question of what is essential in our lives and what is existential or incidental. My husband was a professor and we talked about books all the time. Although we talked and talked for years, I don’t really remember that dialogue. Of all that happiness, all I have left is my writing about that time. It’s kind of a damning fact. Everything you think is solid is actually fleeting and ephemeral.
Does it give you something comfort in knowing that you have at least those books that you wrote in that period of happiness?
I suppose it offers some consolation; otherwise all would be lost. If you read Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Ovid writes about how, if you read this, I am immortal. You can see that theme in Shakespeare’s sonnets: you’re reading this, so I’m still alive. In fact, they are no longer alive, they are gone. But while they were alive, they had that extra dimension of their lives. That’s not nothing.
So having a body of work to leave behind improves the feeling that things have disappeared from your life?
I don’t know how to answer that. We’re starting to lose people. That’s the human experience, and you suddenly realize that the human experience will be your experience. If that starts happening to you, that’s pretty amazing.
Read more of the interview here.
More from the magazine
Read your way through: Start with Jorge Amado to soak up life in the streets of Salvador, Brazil, says writer Itamar Vieira Junior.
Our editorial picks: “My Hijacking”, a memoir and eight other books.
Times bestsellers: “Beyond the Story,” an oral history by K-pop group BTS, debuts at the top of the hardback non-fiction chart.
THE MORNING RECOMMENDS…
Strengthen yourself with the right equipment for traveling with children.
Staff clothes last longer with a few washing tricks.
Stop thinking about work at 2am; try distracting yourself or these other tips.
set your wedding date using a growing trend: astrological guidance.
THE WEEK AHEAD
What to watch out for
In addition to Spain, Cambodia is also holding elections today.
Israel’s parliament was due to vote tomorrow on a proposal to overhaul the judiciary, although Netanyahu’s hospitalization could change that plan.
The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates on Wednesday.
The president’s son, Hunter Biden, will plead guilty to tax-related misconduct on Wednesday.
President Biden will receive Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni at the White House on Thursday.
The Republican Party of Iowa will hold its Lincoln Dinner on Friday. Trump, DeSantis, Scott and other candidates will speak.