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Nouveau Sud Debuts New Sinful Acrobatic Show 

Seven is a magic number

Using physical theater similar to the internationally known Cirque du Soleil, CarlosAlexis Cruz and Nouveau Sud hope to link the seven deadly sins with seven forms of social oppression found in Charlotte with a new show, Septem.

click to enlarge CarlosAlexis Cruz (Photo by Deneb Catalan)
  • CarlosAlexis Cruz (Photo by Deneb Catalan)

The Nouveau Sud — "New South" — troupe are debuting their latest show on July 20 for a two-night run at Booth Playhouse. The group, founded by UNC Charlotte physical theatre professor Cruz, will use acrobatics, aerial performance and more to tell its story.

Cruz, a Puerto Rico native and graduate of Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre in California, has been awarded grants to start the troupe and bring a social circus to Charlotte in the form of his past shows Sûr: An Acrobatic Journey in Search of Safety and the self-titled Nouveau Sud.

The upcoming project follows seven Charlotte natives and friends who have decided to return to the city and reconnect with their home. Cruz recently took a break from the one-man show he is performing in San Francisco, Pícaro, a take on the journey of a Central-American immigrant, to discuss the concept behind his upcoming Charlotte show.

Creative Loafing: What is the concept for Septem and how is that story told?

CarlosAlexis Cruz: Nouveau Sud currently has seven strong core members ... When we were sitting we started floating up on the number seven, and we're also floating around what is around the number seven, and also what is connected with the number seven that matches our social mission. So somebody brought up the idea of the seven deadly sins and we were like "Oh, that's very intriguing."

We started researching a little bit more and we found ways that the seven deadly sins were also connected to seven new forms of our social oppression, so we started to think a little more in that conversation. So we crafted this story about seven friends who grew up in Charlotte and left and now are coming back.

What inspired you to do this show right now?

We are taking a story which feels very common, which is seven friends that left and came back to live together, and they don't seem to listen to each other, they don't seem to get along anymore, and they might end up in something catastrophic happening.

I know we all have different traits, whether good or bad, that makes us different and a tad unbearable, but we also have to have a a level of compassion and a level of openness to each other in order to make community happen.

We at Nouveau Sud want to continue the idea that we are a community and that the power of us is in the sum of everybody, but we tend to not do that in spite of ourselves, internally and externally. I think that's very present for us now, that's very present for the city of Charlotte, that's very present for the national level.

What makes Septem different than your past shows with Nouveau Sud?

click to enlarge Jordan Garcia with Nouveau Sud strikes a pose.
  • Jordan Garcia with Nouveau Sud strikes a pose.

I think it's very story based. There is a level of actually getting to know a little bit more each of the characters in the show. This is also in a more intimate setting. Our past shows have been very spoken word. This one has a little bit more ... We are aiming for people to actually connect with each of the friends, with each of the characters so that we can spark that conversation of community.

This is more in the theatrical performance of circus ... In circus more often than not the emphasis is on the act, and we're trying to put emphasis on the actor. The other thing is we really took a long time researching. It's a very complex subject and it needed that attention.

What do you hope that people take away from the show?

We all have a part in this. That in order to make Charlotte the city that it wants to be, right, that it is the "New South" ... In order to do that it is not enough to just talk, but it is important to listen and it's important to take action together.

I also want people to continue to talk and think about how diverse populations still feel because of things that are happening, like the ICE situation. Community exists from micro to a macro perspective, and in order to make community happen we need to truly listen and we should question if we're truly listening.

There's higher level acrobatics there than anything that you see at a local level, and I think by way of using a physical language that is spectacular, it is a way that we can trigger images ... We can break barriers with images that perhaps is a little harder with just words.

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