Nick Weber

Nick Weber
Milwaukee, Wisconsin,
September 18
Once: Jesuit Priest, Circus Producer, Clown, Actor, High School Performing Arts Teacher. Currently: Sometime connector of certain Dots...........(er, Gifts)


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SEPTEMBER 15, 2011 7:06AM

The Privilege of Creative Choice

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Photo for Blog 275--IMG 

[Bill Cain performing the "Chef-AH-loo Knot." The real mystery was that he ever let me saddle him with such a tired piece of magic.  Royal Lichtenstein Circus, Colorado Springs, 1972.]

 Even in my fifties, I would saunter into magic shops across the country. Lots to be learned just hanging out. Once I asked a proprietor  “What’s new?”  I believed his reply too long.

“Not a damn thing under the sun!” was a surprise, sounded cogent, but was false. As an artist, whose job is to create, he should have known better. But I should talk. It took me some years of making up routines, then directing and rehearsing them, to realize the error.

A fundamental human capacity marking us as outstanding participants in this universe, is our performance of enlightened choice. Surveying options, largely conscious of our evolutionary and less biological social prejudices, we make decisions. Our existence just about implies that. Accordingly, the so-called Existentialists were tireless in ascribing significant human presence precisely to the moments of our choices, the times when we make judgments. True enough, others have made such judgments before us. But not quite. Others did not make our judgments within the spaces, times and lighting conditions we use. And those judgments, choices, decisions, are as new “under the sun” as they are unique.

The cobalt blue oil, water or acrylic medium a given painter dilutes and mixes and spreads above a realistic or interpreted horizon? It can come from the very same tube another painter has just used. From there on, the world’s horizon must be a gallery prepared to receive a unique, new, creation. Even a duplicated rendition is a chosen one, and that identity-- “a copy of”--is in reality, new.

It is not an accident that writing has been embraced as a tool in psychotherapy. Decisions can define us, and writing even a complete sentence is to make a decision. Such a choice, ever so humble, is to bring something new into the world.

Even the decision to leave a lonesome fragment

Often I found my partners and me rehearsing an antique puzzle-become-parlor trick, that I had decided to package inside of an equally aged vaudeville routine.   Such fun demonstrated that there could be something new under the sun—even for night shows. Given the choice to make such a conflation, the trick became an intriguing little illusion, and the vaudeville turn romped with a distinctly fresh beginning, middle and end.

And so with the array of vital human endeavors that comprise the matters of life and  greater or less happy survival. Artistic projects just make the relevance of such alchemy evident.  Along with art such dynamisms are to be found in and between the arenas of science, education, religion. Political discernment? You bet. Why else the judgment of our ballots after endless calls for compromise, conflation, and collaborative ingenuity?

Far more importantly than my boyhood magic judgments, was a recent  decision in  the prestigious national Steinberg playwright competition. First place for best new play of 2010 originating in a regional theater went to an ingenious, sharply skilled and creative friend of mine. He chose to find the human and horrifying atmosphere of Dante in the ramifications of the Iraq war. Boldly conflating Middle Age metaphor with the stuff of 21st Century reporting, Bill Cain dared to recognize the topography of the Inferno in a contemporary military experience. His acclaimed drama, Nine Circles, is the result.

Shamelessly, forty years ago I asked Bill to learn and present an utterly undaring piece of ancient magic, “The Chefalu Knot” in the Royal Lichtenstein Circus. Not unsurprisingly, he redeemed it with brass bold new comedy.     


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Choice...even when not enlightened, it is a privilege.
A couple of local magicians are redefining classic routines (like linking rings) and making them new and engaging again. . .like Tiger reinventing the golf club or Bela Fleck the banjo. It aint' old if an audience has never seen it.
Happy Birthday Nick. You now share this special with a new cousin born this morning named Maxwell. Good day to be born!