From Vaudeville to Renaissance: Rob Williams of the Kamikaze Fireflies

Summertime is here, and things are heating up at the Catskill Mountain Foundation – but that may be due to a fire breather in the Doctorow! Together, Casey Martin (the human torch in question) and Rob Williams are the Kamikaze Fireflies, a comical circus act that will be coming to the Doctorow on June 4th. I recently got to speak to Rob about climbing on strangers, doing dishes, and the greatest story of a first meeting I have ever heard.

KF Image 2

What got you into circus performance?

For Casey and I both it was going to renaissance festivals. We grew up near them, and in a lot of ways I think vaudeville in America ended up at renaissance festivals. You still see stuff out there that you won’t see anywhere else; the style of performance that we do exists in very few places. Renaissance festivals grew out of the street performing explosion of the 70’s, but I think that grew out of vaudeville. I don’t know how on earth it happened, but somehow it ended up in renaissance.

How do you create new acts?

I think of creating new stuff as something you don’t always have to be working on. As a creator you always have two big jobs when it comes to the art part: to maintain and execute what you currently do, and to always be creating new. If you don’t do those things well, you’ll be at a dead end.  No idea is too stupid or a red light, no idea is too dumb. Everything is open so you’re always creatively keeping your antenna out for new ideas, props, pieces. Often times we buy a prop, play with it for a while, and then put it aside because it doesn’t work. Sometimes you buy a prop and it just clicks, it works. I look at it as a funnel: that means bit by bit you narrow it down. Some ideas aren’t feasible or don’t connect with you, so you just narrow it down.

How did you learn to do all this?
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