Little Top: Small-Venue Performers in New York City
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New York is a city of small theaters and performers struggling to find audiences. Little theaters are often the way that aspiring stars can get their start, be seen and hone their acts. I first became interested in these performers in the fall of 2008, as the economy slid into recession. I needed something to distract myself from the horrific economic news, so I began to seek out circus acts, magicians, clowns and other performers whose performances were held in small venues, far from the theatrical mainstream. I worked sporadically, sometimes shelving the project for months at a time, but I kept returning to it. At first, I worked with both digital and film cameras, but finally I settled on using black and white film. There is something very old-fashioned about live performers eating fire, doing slapstick or declaiming Yiddish in 19th century costumes that called out for a medium from the pre-electronic age.