If you frequent the Majestic Theatre, chances are you may be seeing a Broadway play, relaxing amidst a quiet evening with strings, or even enjoying an electrified experience that gets you off your feet. But this Friday, April 1 at 7:30 p.m., cyclist extraordinaire Chris Lashua and his crew at Cirque Mechanics have a few tricks up their sleeves that will transform the Majestic stage into a world of controlled chaos.
Enter Pedal Punk, a full on production where cycling meets circuitry meets circus, and a whole new dimension of acrobats and actors collide on the stage for an experience that is equal parts invention and entertainment, while acting as social commentary for our obsession with technology.
Tickets start at $29 and can be purchased here.
According to a Cirque Mechanics news release, the Pedal Punk audience will witness the “artistry and thrill that occurs when a zany bike shop mechanic interacts with cyclists and bikes and repairs more than broken pieces.”
Lashua, Pedal Punk creative director, showcases his innate passion for all things bicycles in a synergy between man and machine that the New York Times called “exceptional, evocative, eye-catching and grossly entertaining.”
Having just arrived to Houston from his home-base of Las Vegas, Lashua put down his Chick-fil-A – which he enjoys every time he’s in Texas – to share his vision and passion with the Rivard Report over the phone.
“We were looking to do something a little different, less freaky-deaky, something grounded in a real world setting,” Lashua said of the departure from traditional circus. “We show off the relationship of how the circus acts work, what makes the artist come to life.”
It’s important to realize as you’re soaking in the Steampunk-inspired setting, that the crew at Cirque Mechanics engineers all the contraptions you’re witnessing and they’re happy to let you in on their secrets.
“We open it up and show the rigging, the person peddling and how it all connects,” Lashua said. “This openness is a big part of what the show is all about.”
“I remember reading an article about BMX-freestyle great Bob Harrow,” Lashua said. “I saw him perform and I can look back and realize that as the moment that got me started.”
The entire Pedal Punk crew are veterans of performance, uniquely talented individuals who are very good at what they do, Lashua added.
“They are excited to be showcased in a new way, to do something brand new,” he said. “In a big circus company you don’t really have a say, but when there’s 10 people involved, everyone is involved in every component.”
In modern society, people are pushing the boundaries on what it means to be an adrenaline junkie, and our bodies are no longer enough to test the limits – so we build machines. From BASE climbing and Windsuit Flying to the more accessible bungee jumping or sky-diving, human nature is downright obsessed with the electric rush of dopamine that creates a clearer connection with the world around you, and makes you come alive.
According to Lashua, when it comes to the world of acrobatics and cycling, there’s a balance.
“You have moments where you question ‘Wow, is this crazy?’” he said. “My crew has to be comfortable to push back and say what their idea is as well. We can’t be breaking people or things – it’s not good business.”
As creative director, Lashua has the ability to push the envelope a little bit and challenge the performers to test their abilities. He knows how to make it work and when to tell his crew to “get up and try that.
“For sure you get caught up in the flow, the rush of something that’s never been done before,” Lashua said. “When you can both get fired up about it, we pull the trigger and actually start building up the apparatus.”
While not everything in Pedal Punk is high-risk, Lashua conceded that the dancing trampoline act is a place where you really see the relationship between human potential and the physics of a moving world.
“When I first had the idea of mixing trampoline with gantry (a component of lifting cranes, like those on big steamboats), I saw a running surface for trampolinists who run and jump, flip and land on different layers, hang and flip back to the ground,” Lashua said. “It’s like an action sports kind of number.”
When Lashua and the Pedal Punk crew are not on the stage, they are busy giving back and educating the next generation of performers.
“We do shows for grade school kids, team-building for college students, and workshops for young adults,” Lashua said. “In terms of what’s possible for young people, there are circus companies in almost every part of the states.”
Lashua believes that this world is definitely more accessible now, with aerial classes being offered and acrobatics becoming a popular activity. “It’s visible to those who couldn’t see it before,” he said.
As you witness the performers across the stage, take a moment to step back and see the greater picture of what’s happening, and how you can connect.
“At the heart of it it’s all about manpower,” Lashua said, “the person manipulating a pedal.”
*Top Image: The crew of Pedal Punk celebrates at the conclusion of their riveting performance. Photo courtesy of Pedal Punk.