Jay Gilligan Plays New York

Jay Gilligan presents his one-man show, “Reflex” in Brooklyn. The show will be performed 42 times, including the final show on February 19th. Jay performs as many as three shows per day. Original music composed by Book Kennison.

The theater features 60 seats. Each seat is close to the stage. Jay explains, “We choose this theater because I wanted to be close to the audience. To eliminate the ‘3rd wall.’ There is no amplification. When I speak, you’re hearing my voice. It makes the performance a personal experience. I interact with the audience and each show is a little different.”

Indeed, there are many original and subtle innovations on display and to catch the nuances you have to be up close. Jay also makes eye contact with audience members as he speaks and sometimes throws props out into your lap in unexpected ways. It’s like sitting down at a restaurant and instead of telling the waitress what to bring, saying, “surprise me.

He begins with traditional props – balls, clubs, and rings. His venerable sustained patterns with five clubs are performed early on so you don’t have to wait around wondering if he’s going to do it or not.

He performs site swaps and pirouettes with 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. With rings he does neck catches and multiplex including six rings, two small, two standard, and two large in a cascade.

If the first part, ‘tradition props’ is quite structured, the second and third parts were less so. He drifts back and forth speaking to the audience about the history of juggling, his personal history, his unique observations on life, and anecdotal stories; and performing unique far out and astonishing routines with nontraditional props, everyday objects, and created props.

He juggles hollow balls over a fan. The balls are full of confetti and glitter and the fan blows the particles all over. He attaches yarn to the balls and juggles near a vacuum that swallows the strings.

He magnetizes the clubs and holds, stalls, exchanges, and balances them as they are attracted and repelled to each other. He juggles three balls in one Kara Box then one ball in three Kara Boxes. He juggles with his “partner” a fully functioning minimalist robot.

He challenges you to define what juggling is in your mind and changes your preconceived notions about it and the nature of movement and patterns.

If you thought that a juggler shouldn’t drop or that a drop was a mistake then you can just forget that. For example he deliberately goes from five objects to four, tossing the one high, changing the pattern and letting the high throw fall to the ground but you don’t notice it because you’re focused on the new interesting pattern.

Only as an afterthought do you realize something fell to the ground but with purpose.

He mentions that his father worked for NASA and that he was born the year of the Voyager space launch and compares the patterns of the cosmos with the workings of molecular particles. The relationship between space, time, and one’s self come together in the dynamic of skill and observation.

You think you’re going to see a juggler, then you find out you have no idea what a juggler is.

“Reflex” is appearing virtually, and at the Mitu 580 Theater in Brooklyn until Saturday, February 19th, at 8pm. For more information (including the possibility to stream the show online), visit www.reflexshow.com/.

Raphael Harris

Raphael Harris was the proprietor of the Jerusalem Circus School for Children for over ten years. He has performed "Sir Juggley's One Man Circus" over a thousand times. He appeared in the Guiness Book of World Records twice and the Record Setters Book of World Records three times. He lives in New York.

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