In celebration of Black excellence in circus, Veronica Blair has produced a video premiere featuring Black women aptly named The Crown.
The Crown is a circus short film that follows a young black woman on her journey of self discovery. On her quest, she encounters five archetypes to self-mastery. These five archetypes are embodied by Summer Lacy, Copper Santiago, Darielle Williams, Susan Voyticky, and Shenea Stiletto.
Blair describes her motivation for making the film, “I was the recipient of a grant from Little Boxes Theatre here in San Francisco, California. Initially, I thought I would make an aerial video featuring myself… but that didn’t excite me. I wanted to do something more impactful. I eventually decided to create a showcase featuring female performers of African descent. My motivation was simply that I had never seen one before.”
We asked Blair to talk about the process of making The Crown. She explained, “Of course, we’ve all seen our fair share of virtual showcases during the pandemic, so I wanted to try and push the concept to the next level. Ultimately I came up with a main character (played by myself), who is on a journey of self-discovery. The performances in the film are arranged in a way that correspond with what the character is experiencing, turning each performer into an important figure in the evolution of the main character. I also decided to leave the story open just enough to let the viewer interpret what’s happening for themselves.”
Blair’s warmth comes through when describing the metamorphosis of this labor of love, “What started as a virtual showcase, turned into something very beautiful and moving. I hope that viewers will find something to be inspired by. Whether it’s Summer Lacey’s impressive aerial chains performance, the fierceness of Darielle Williams, or the journey of the main character.”
We asked Blair to chose an artist from the film to discuss their act with. She chose Summer Lacy:
Veronica Blair: What inspired you to create this act?
Summer Lacy: The original piece was inspired by Mayan culture and the reverence for ascension through sacrifice. With The Crown, I had a chance to recontextualize that act about a different kind of freedom, still born of sacrifice, but with a very different context. I knew I had the opportunity to create a unique piece of art, showcasing performers’ work within the context of a greater narrative, all while working with talented women I love and admire.
VB: How do you feel about how your act was used in the story?
SL: I love the way the different acts give context to the overall story. Combining my act with the others really re-contextualized it and made it something fresh and new. When I saw the final cut I knew I was a part of something special.
VB: How do you feel about the film as a whole?
SL: It’s a singular cohesive piece in that there’s a beginning, middle and end, but each part showcases a different act. Virtual showcases are a part of life in quarantine, but I haven’t seen a one that puts everything together with such a cohesive overarching narrative. It’s really unique, powerful and different from what I’ve seen before.
Enjoy Watching The Crown
Photos provided courtesy of Veronica Blair