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Subprime follies hit Astoria with political Circus Amok

On Saturday, Sept. 13, Socrates Sculpture Park in Astoria will be host to the outlandish yet politically conscious stylings of the Circus Amok troupe as they waltz on in to present to you "Sub-Prime Sublime," a recent show involving "acrobatic economists, fantastical free-falling free markets" and more jokes on the lending crisis.

Since its inception in 1989, Circus Amok has been a well of free, politically conscious circus performances for New Yorkers of all ages. They have toured Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx, putting on free outdoor performances in parks since 1994, bringing to light issues such as immigration, affordable housing, quality public education, police-community relations, health care, gentrification and gay marriage. Circus Amok will do all that while juggling chainsaws from atop a pair of stilts that are situated in a pool of sharks and piranhas. On fire.

The combination of the cheap tawdry antics of street performers and circus clowns mix drastically yet with glaring clarity when juxtaposed with the gravity of the situation being presented. The motley discord of the performance draws attention to the social situation being presented to great effect.

Founded in 1989 by performance artist Jennifer Miller, a knife-juggling, fire-eating woman with a beard and professor in the UCLA Department of World Arts and Cultures, Circus Amok describes itself as a "circus-theater company whose mission is to provide free public art addressing contemporary issues of social justice to the people of New York City."

The group, comprising seven ring performers, a seven-member band, three roustabouts and a "trucker-technician extraordinaire," has been together since 1989, "bringing its funny, queer, caustic and sexy, political one-ring spectacles to diverse neighborhoods from East New York to the East Village," according to its Web site.

Colorfully questionable and altogether entertaining, Circus Amok puts on a show that will make you laugh, gasp and think.

Socrates Sculpture Park was an abandoned landfill and illegal dumping site until 1986, when a coalition of artists and community members got together and shaped it into a park where artists and the public can come together to put on and view performances made by and for each other. It is open every day of the year from 10 a.m. to sunset and is located at the intersection of Broadway and Vernon Boulevard in Astoria.

The show starts at 3 p.m. Saturday and is free to the public. More information can be found by calling 718-486-7432 or by visiting Circus Amok's Web site at www.circusamok.org.

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