The idea of Cirque du Soleil might invite images of extravagant live shows with clowns, acrobats and fire breathers. The company is trying to change that.
Cirque du Soleil came out of the pandemic in rough shape. So it decided to build a more expansive, catastrophe-proof brand — aiming to sell not just shows but also sunglasses, perfumes and video games, as my colleague Emma Goldberg wrote in a story documenting its transformation.
“Cirque is a funny example of an attempt at cultural reinvention because I don’t even think of circuses as trying to be relevant,” Emma told me. “They were asking the question, ‘Why isn’t Gen Z interested in the circus?’ That almost feels rhetorical. It’s because 5-year-olds are into the circus.”
The decision came after months of meetings with consultants. Because they were talking about the circus instead of, say, banking, people dropped phrases like, “I think there’s a real opportunity to elevate the art of clowning” and “Don’t focus on the Cirque, focus on the Soleil.”
Still, the meetings succeeded in giving Cirque du Soleil a sweeping plan to transform itself. This week, the company will release a video game on the popular gaming platform Roblox. It produced a show last month for Motorola to introduce a new phone. It is working on a line of home goods (think psychedelic curtains) and a television documentary series (current title: “Down to Clown”).
“They’re saying: ‘Forget the circus. Forget the red-nosed clown and the big tent and the popcorn. Think about this as an artistic statement,’” Emma said. “And they’re trying to channel that into selling consumer products.”
Read Emma’s full story, which includes more dazzling photos of Cirque du Soleil performances, to see how the changes are faring.
Benjamin Netanyahu had an unplanned heart procedure to implant a pacemaker. Doctors said afterward that the Israeli prime minister was “doing very well.”
Netanyahu was expected to stay in the hospital for at least a day, casting uncertainty over his government’s deeply contentious plan to pass a law tomorrow to limit judicial power.
A miles-long column of demonstrators marched into Jerusalem to protest the proposal. Follow our updates.
In Spain’s elections today, mainstream conservatives may come out on top, but they would most likely need hard-right allies to govern.
Mismanagement and U.S. sanctions devastated Venezuela’s oil industry, leaving behind leaking pipelines and polluted neighborhoods.
Belarus’s leader, Aleksandr Lukashenko, has further cracked down on dissent since crushing protests three years ago.
A man who was kicked out of a bar in Mexico because he was harassing women, witnesses said, returned later and threw a firebomb at the club, killing at least 11.
Other Big Stories
Algorithms on social media are denying young people the joys of exploration and discovery, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut argues.
Many men struggle to make new friends. One idea to relieve this loneliness: Go play pickleball, Michelle Cottle says.
Smartphone apps and QR codes were supposed to make travel simpler. Instead, they have made it more annoying, Jessica Grose writes.
The Sunday question: Should No Labels field a presidential candidate?
The group is effectively a surrogate for Trump because it can siphon voters who are not enthusiastic about Biden, David Faris writes in Newsweek. But Democrats are making the case against a third-party candidate so strongly that they may insulate Biden from its effect, Aaron Blake writes in The Washington Post.
Magical creatures: The eccentric, enchanting animated films of Studio Ghibli, theme-park-style.
Hollywood’s secret weapon: Ann Roth is the costume designer behind iconic looks in “Midnight Cowboy,” “Working Girl” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”
Wheels of fortune: Cheese is part of Switzerland’s identity. So why is it importing more than it’s exporting?
Vows: She dreamed of finding love at Whole Foods, but she discovered it on Twitter instead.
Lives Lived: Richard Barancik was the last surviving member of the Allied unit known as the Monuments Men and Women, which preserved European artworks and cultural treasures that Nazi Germany had looted. He died at 98.
TALK | FROM THE TIMES MAGAZINE
Joyce Carol Oates, one of America’s greatest living writers, is the author of the new short-story collection “Zero-Sum.” I spoke with Oates, who is 85, about the legacies we leave behind.
In your book “On Boxing,” you have a line about how, for fighters, life is about the fight and the rest is just waiting. Do you feel that way about writing?
That’s a good question. It points to a philosophical issue of what is essential in our lives and what is existential or incidental. My husband was a professor, and we talked about books all the time. Though we talked and talked for years, I don’t really remember that dialogue. All I have left of all that happiness is my writing of that time. It’s a kind of devastating fact. Everything that you think is solid is actually fleeting and ephemeral.
Does it give you any solace to know that you at least have those books that you wrote during that period of happiness?
I suppose it has some solace to it; otherwise, things would all be lost. If you read Ovid’s “Metamorphoses,” Ovid writes about how, if you’re reading this, I’m immortal. You see that theme in Shakespeare’s sonnets: You’re reading this, so I’m still alive. In fact, they’re not alive, they’re gone. But while they were alive, they did have that extra dimension of their lives. That is not nothing.
So having a body of work to leave behind ameliorates the feeling of things being gone from your life?
I don’t know how to answer that. We start losing people. That’s the human experience, and you suddenly realize that the human experience is going to be your experience. When that starts to happen to you, it is quite stunning.
Read more of the interview here.
More from the magazine
Read your way through: To soak up life on the streets of Salvador, Brazil, start with Jorge Amado, the writer Itamar Vieira Junior says.
Our editors’ picks: “My Hijacking,” a memoir, and eight other books.
Times best sellers: “Beyond the Story,” an oral history of the K-pop group BTS, debuts at the top of the hardcover nonfiction list.
THE MORNING RECOMMENDS …
Fortify yourself with the right gear for traveling with children.
Help clothes last longer with a few laundry tricks.
Stop thinking about work at 2 a.m.; try distracting yourself or these other tips.
Set your wedding date with help from a growing trend: astrological guidance.
THE WEEK AHEAD
What to Watch For
Besides Spain, Cambodia is also holding elections today.
Israel’s Parliament was expected to vote tomorrow on a divisive proposal to overhaul its judiciary, though Netanyahu’s hospitalization may alter that plan.
The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates on Wednesday.
The president’s son Hunter Biden is scheduled to plead guilty on Wednesday to tax-related misdemeanors.
President Biden will host the Italian prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, at the White House on Thursday.
Iowa’s Republican Party will hold its Lincoln Dinner on Friday. Trump, DeSantis, Scott and other candidates are scheduled to speak.
What to Cook This Week