Ali McGhee is a journalist, creative writer, and academic. Her work has appeared in The Edgar Allan Poe Review, Romantic Circles, Symbiosis: A Journal of Anglo-American Literary...
In a timeless and whimsical version of Paris, a janitor employed to clean the Eiffel Tower longingly awaits his debut on an old-timey radio variety show, The Orbiting Human Circus of the Air. It's a quest beset by mishaps and waylaid by fantastic creatures, remarkable stories, and intensely imaginative song and performance.
It sounds like a dream, but in fact it's a podcast. The Orbiting Human Circus of the Air, produced by Night Vale Presents (the people behind the hugely popular Welcome to Night Vale), features surreal and phantasmagorical story lines that all connect back to one person: Julian, the less-than-adept janitor. Voiced by podcast creator Julian Koster (of The Music Tapes and Neutral Milk Hotel), the Janitor, we come to find out, is searching for something more than just fame. The story of Julian's trials and travails is interspersed with the radio show itself (which has the same title as the podcast), which includes fanciful musical numbers, special guests, and strange stories (one, for example, is about cannibalism). The show has also featured guest appearances by celebrities including Tim Robbins.
Both the podcast and the radio show within the podcast are deeply imaginative and packed with wondrous details. This, dear readers, is why it's so exciting that The Orbiting Human Circus is going on the road to bring the Janitor to venues across the country, which he will attempt—and fail—to clean as he is beset by myriad guests, performances, and other distractions. Of course, podcasts aren't visual, but like radio shows of the past, they easily spark imaginative conjuring. The Orbiting Human Circus does a particularly good job of world-building that will translate well to the visual mode of performance.
The show comes to the Grey Eagle on Tuesday, May 30th, at which point the Janitor will descend upon the unsuspecting folk of Asheville for "an immersive evening of songs, stories, games, magic, and more," according to the press release. The whole shebang will be helmed by the Janitor and Julian Koster's band, The Music Tapes (Elephant 6 Collective/Merge Records). We got a chance to talk with Koster about the podcast, the show, and (in the spirit of The Orbiting Human Circus), his inspirations and his dreams. Source: The Orbiting Human Circus and Music Tapes Facebook