The seeds for my first Notoriety Variety production were planted over 40 years ago.
I was working in New York and San Francisco as a professional juggler, circus teacher, and director. I saw early on the powerful impact that personalized circus performances had on an audience. It was an epiphany, and I subsequently lost interest in conventional variety arts theater. My new goal was to experiment, to push and expand the boundaries of variety arts.
Then, in the 80s, everything changed. A serious illness ended my performing career -- and it nearly ended my life.
I was at an artistic impasse. My body, immobilized but my mind, unbound. Through years of contemplation, artistic exploration, teaching, learning new technologies, and writing an autobiography, I conceptualized a new type of family matinee. A matinee that brought together all the best art forms and performers and deeply connected them with diverse audiences from all walks of life.
Notoriety Variety is conceived as an immersive experience. From the moment you enter the door, you will be swept up into a festive environment of interactive art-making, food-tasting, and video-projecting fun. The carnival atmosphere will carry over into the main stage production of an original physical theater fable, "Grushenka Golliwogg's Grand Gazebo Gala." This show cannot succeed without the active participation of the audience. The audience will laugh, cry, and marvel at the performers. The audience will call out suggestions to the performers as they weave their way to a surprising conclusion.
I’m also very excited about my planned workshop program. In Notoriety Variety's workshops, we will select different elements from our shows. Percussion, singing, spoken word, designing murals for the sets. We will share the creation of these components with "forgotten" populations from across the Bay Area: the disabled, at-risk youth, the abused, seniors, and the homeless.
Imagine the excitement that can be generated by this new variety arts concept! It will only happen with your generous help and support. Your donation will concretize what has so far only been imagined.
Judy Finelli is one of the cornerstone figures of the American New Circus Movement. After graduating with a BFA from NYU School of the Arts in 1970, Finelli appeared in circus, theatre, film, and television before moving to San Francisco to perform and direct with the Pickle Family Circus. She appeared in Robert Altman’s live-action film of “Popeye” (written by Jules Feiffer), and her television appearances include “Sesame Street,” and “The Mike Douglas Show.” Live performances include the Circo dell’Arte, a Luciano Berio concert at Carnegie Hall, the Theater for the New City, and Circus Vargas. In 1984, she co-founded the San Francisco School for Circus Arts (now Circus Center) with Wendy Parkman, before becoming the Artistic Director of the Pickle Family Circus in 1987. After leaving the Pickles in 1990, Judy has focused on teaching and directing students and shows throughout the US. She has taught at the International Mime Festival, NYU School of the Arts, Juilliard Drama School, the American Conservatory Theater, the Ringling Clown College, the Prescott Circus Theater, and the Sons of Cayuga Circus Studios. In 2015 she staged the juggling finale for Circus Bella. She is the subject of a forthcoming documentary “Still Judy: The Judy Finelli Project,” by award-winning director-cinematographer Lisa Denker. is one of the cornerstone figures of the New American Circus Movement. After graduating from NYU School of the Arts (BFA ‘70), Finelli appeared in movies and on TV before moving to San Francisco to perform with the Pickle Family Circus. In 1984, she co-founded the San Francisco School for Circus Arts (now Circus Center) with Wendy Parkman before becoming the Artistic Director of the Pickle Family Circus in 1987. After leaving the Circus in 1990, Judy focused on teaching and directing students and shows in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Notoriety Variety is a San Francisco Bay Area-based performance group that will produce immersive, delightful, and playful variety shows and family matinées for audiences of all ages, as well as experimental, more adult performance art fare. Notoriety Variety’s original and inventive productions, conceived by founder Judy Finelli, and written by her and others, will include actors, musicians from diverse genres, dancers, and variety artists, designed to sweep audiences into a festive environment of interactive art-making, food creation and tasting, and video-projecting fun. Notoriety Variety will also provide free workshops in music, movement, choral speaking, and circus arts for underserved populations drawn from across the Bay Area – the disabled, at-risk youth, the abused, and the homeless. The productions and workshops will embody Notoriety Variety’s commitment to exemplary traditional, experimental, and interactive arts, by showcasing top professionals alongside emerging performers, while connecting with audiences from all walks of life.
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