Varekai in Low Vision

My friends and I exit the car into a heavy wind. Leaves swirl in the lot, a foreshadowing of sights to come. We make the way to our rows. Stockton guides me to the railing as we descend stairs. I’ve walked these stairs before for state tournament basketball games and Ice Capades and Barnum and Bailey’s and who knows what else, it’s been awhile. We arrive at our seats, anticipating the show. I use my monocular to study the set, familiarize myself with stage elements and silently wish for calm lighting.

A comedic tone revs up the show staffed by a smaller cast than I expected, but I’m spoiled by my previous experience seeing a Vegas performance: a large cast, venue designed with show in mind. Extraordinary and complex costumes, make up and skin suits convey emotion and the roles the performers play with confidence. Displays of sheer power, flexibility, skill astound us. These maneuvers are not for beginners. Tumbling in the air, poses supported by twisted fabric or interlocked arms, willpower when a harness suspends them over the crowd. The soaring athleticism is matched by the dramatic live music. Cirque du Soleil is a feast for the eyes and ears.

I revel in the art of movement. My eyes always pick up forms in motion, they rely on the memories of years of musicals and dance theaters and ballet performances to create a bar of familiarity with which to compare the feats before me. Cirque is not the ordinary, it is what is unusual which makes it great. Magnified in my monocular, I miss nothing from a solo performer, but I miss the greater collusion, the impact of a group performance when I examine it through a closer look. I alternate between watching an impression of group movements and the details of one. I pick out favorite performers and follow them as they bend and twist and leap and balance and tumble. With a final flourish of dance and acrobatic arts, the show ends and the audience bursts into applause. Well done.

As I left the arena, I felt a trace of wanting to have missed more which is odd for this low visionista, but that’s what stayed with me. The slower pace of the traveling show suits my visual impairment, but not my desire for entertainment as explosive and synchronized and dueling as a Fourth of July fireworks finale. I suppose it’s time to head back to Vegas.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Modwyn says:

    This is an astute commentary on watching theater performances in low vision. I’ve often felt the same conflict at ballets and plays where, like you, I have a magnified slice of the performance but not the entire scene.

    1. Thanks Modwyn. A conflict indeed but I still love live performances.

  2. Fascinating account of your experience. I went to an audio described play at our local theatre and we were taken onto the set and met the actors before the play started. This was a big help but, even with the audio description and binocular glasses I felt disappointed. I think you are right, maybe over the top productions are best for VI. I think it’s the 3D effect. I find cinema much easier. Enjoyed your account though…thanks, Susan.

    1. I don’t feel like I miss much with cinema either. I think you’re on to something there Bridget. Very interesting.

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