by Troy Gilbert
Nestled upon a bayou in the fishing town of Lafitte in southeastern Louisiana, an unusual group of Europeans and North Americans have landed aboard a 100-foot Thames barge. The Amara Zee is a custom-built, flat-keeled vessel modeled after 19th-century English sailing barges, but today it houses what can best be described as a nautical version of Cirque du Soleil. After 8 years touring 19 nations in Europe, the Amara Zee was shipped to the States and is now prepping for a multi-year tour of U.S. and Canadian coasts and waterways.
Reminiscent of the theatrical troupes that traveled Italy and France centuries ago, the Caravan Stage Company sails on a scheduled route of marinas and shoreline parks to put on a spectacle. Using the 90- and 58-foot masts as well as engineered platforms, the actors and acrobats use the rigging to fly through the boat’s space to original scores, lyrics and kaleidoscopic lighting and images flashed on sails and backdrops.
To crowds of nearly 1,500 people lining the medieval harbors of Italy, Germany, Greece, and France, families would set out blankets with wine and cheese on the green spaces and wonder at the production that always starts 30 minutes after sunset.
The Caravan Stage Company and its cast of 19 will bring this to the Southeastern Seaboard beginning in June with the world premier of its new production beginning in Jacksonville, Florida. From there, the company will sail north and begin the Great Loop with a tour on the Gulf Coast in 2015. caravanstage.org