Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival kicks off with a press preview TONIGHT, so we're featuring some of the key players today. Check out our video of Festival Co-Producer Matt Roben who proves you truly can have a career in the circus arts without spending your life on the road.
Chicago circus arts jack of all trades, Matt Roben, expounds on his career with excerpts from a piece entitled Confessions of a Circus Mercenary. Shot at a book release tour for The Ordinary Acrobat by Duncan Wall, at City Winery in Chicago for ChiIL Live Shows/ChiIL Mama.
More about Matt:
In true "worlds collide" fashion (or is that 6 degrees of separation), Matt (who happened to be wearing a Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival Tee at the time) recently ended up in a long conversation with my sound guy husband at an annual boys only beer bash known as The Freelancers Ball.
Matt Roben, Co-Producer for the Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival, a six day event featuring contemporary circus companies from around the world which will take place in Lakeview from January 7-12, 2014.
Matt Roben is a circus performer with over 24 years of professional experience as a clown and actor (and the only guy I've ever met in person who can pull off a dual handlebar mustache!! (**click here for more of ChiIL Live Shows' photo features of Matt Roben's Midnight Circus work)
Originally from Saratoga, CA, Matt grew up performing in musical theater and after graduating high school was fortunate enough to attend the prestigious National Circus School of Montreal where his focus was acrobatic bicycle and clown. He has been performing for the public in venues as diverse as backyard birthday parties to the stage of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra with everything from a bicycle act on a cruise ship to the top of a 60' sway pole overlooking the skyline of Dubai. He has been seen in circuses, USO shows, musical and straight theater, television, commercials, movies and voice over. He has performed circus on the high seas and in North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia with companies such as Royal Caribbean, MSC, The New Pickle Circus, Cirque Productions, Poet Productions, Aloft Circus Arts and Midnight Circus. In 1997 he competed in the Acrobatic Bicycle World Championships as the only American in nearly two decades to do so. In the early 2000's, while back in the San Francisco Bay Area, Matt performed in a number of theater shows and as a cast member on the television showStand UP It's Thursday Night and produced the Spring Comedy Competition in San Jose, CA. He was also a founding member of the short-lived Dusk Beat Circus.
Since moving to Chicago a decade ago Matt has worked with Lookingglass Theatre, iO Theater (formerly Improv Olympic), Actors Gymnasium, Aloft Circus Arts, Emerald City Theater Company, The Artistic Home, Midnight Circus and Lyric Opera of Chicago. He has taught circus for nearly every circus organization in town and performed as a clown doctor in all of the major Chicago-land Childrenʼs Hospitals. For the last six years he has been a cast member of Midnight Circus as a musical clown, acrobatic bicyclist and performing his comical chair balancing routine. He performs a "melancholic" mime piece with several of the nation's premier orchestras as the comical host and emcee of Cirque Musica. Matt is a monthly favorite in Alofts' El Circo Cheapo Cabaret with his acrobatic bicycle act or musical comedy duo act, The Amazing Gamberoni Brothers.
In addition to circus Matt has done commercials for Clabber Girl Baking Powder, morning-DJ Rover, and the Como Restaurant. Matt was also featured on billboards and in magazine ads nationwide for Hewlett Packard doing another one of his passions: flying his hang glider. You can see him on episodes of Jerry Springer as a juggling stilt-walker and as an entertainer in the movie Outing Reilly. He is an experienced trade-show presenter and emcee for companies such as Zirmed, Manitowoc, NTN, Visit Britain, Intel, Pogo Linux and many more, bringing his unique brand of comedy and circus skills to the rather "conventional" convention market. Finally, you can catch Matt every Monday at Chicagoʼs Shedd Aquarium where he is a scuba dive presenter in the Caribbean Reef Tank, hand-feeding stingrays and fish and educating the public about life underwater.