Certified Lunatic and Master of the Impossible
Susan Barnett caught up with Tomáš Kubínek, “Certified Lunatic and Master of the Impossible,” during his airport layover in Chicago Monday, on his way to Los Angeles. Then he’ll fly to Milwaukee for a show at the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 19). The center is at 901 15th Ave., South Milwaukee. For tickets and information, call 414 766-5049 or visit SMPAC’s website.
Susan Barnett: You must spend a lot of time in the air.
Tomáš Kubínek: Yeah, I do. It’s OK. I see it as that’s what I get paid for, the waiting around. The performing I do for free.
SB: Your press materials say that you use every trick in the book to charm, transport, move and elicit laughter from an audience. Can you share one of your tricks?
TK: I do a whole bunch of things. It’s a very kind of theatrical vibe, vaudevillian in nature, and connected to the roots of European clowning and fools. One thing I do is I demonstrate this machine that I built that has multiple shoes. So I walk around with it and I do a kind of absurd dance with all kinds of backward and forward steps and sideways sways. It rolls along, I move along rolling on arches. That’s one thing I do and I also fly in the air, with big wings.
And I do a thing where I balance a glass of wine on my forehead and I do a backwards somersault while I’m playing the ukulele and whistling, and then I drink the wine.
And those things, they’re just kind of the currency I guess, of what I do and then the spirit with the audience and the improvisation and spontaneity is more than that.
SB: Your performances are more or less improvised, different every night depending on the audience and how the room feels?
TK: Yeah, and I play a lot, I go off on tangents and amuse myself and make up stuff on the spot and that’s all within a structure that works already. It gives me the freedom.
SB: You attended the circus for the first time at age five and it was a big influence on your life. What sights, sounds, or smells still remain in your mind from that first circus you attended?
TK: It’s kind of like hazy film footage now, but just being impressed with it and with the courage of it all and the grace and magic of the whole thing. It’s a whole other world, performing, than going to school or knowing what your life is supposed to be.
TK: I left school pretty early. I graduated from high school when I was 16 and that’s even with working, getting permission to get out and do performances. I went to college for a year when I was 17 and then I dropped out of college and started performing full time and traveling.
SB: Did the circus and theater performers you worked with become a second family?
TK: Yeah, and they still are. I guess it’s similar for anyone who has a calling in life. Your colleagues become your family too, you know? Because you understand each other. It’s where your heart is. And so it becomes kind of like your path in life. I have a lot of great friends that are all over the world and some of them I don’t see for five or ten years but when we meet up again it’s like we just talked to each other last night.
SB: Have you ever been frightened during any of your stunts, such as when you were fencing with Tino Wallenda on a high wire and intentionally fell 40 feet? If it was me, I’d be terrified!
TK: It’s a thrill and a rush, but everything gets rehearsed. I like adventure. In my time off I did an accelerated free fall sky-diving class. It was really exciting. I don’t so much get frightened of falling.
Another thing I do is go to prisons and youth detention centers and do free performances for inmates. Some people might find that scary but I actually love doing it and it’s very rewarding. They laugh, they regain some dignity for a moment and I think it just gives them a glimmer back of what they could be, when they get out.
SB: You will be presenting some workshops at UW-Milwaukee while you are in town. What do you most want to share with the students?
I do a bunch of stuff to show them and encourage them to have freedoms in whatever they do – whether they’re a musician or an actor or poet, how to have freedom physically and mentally when you’re performing in front of people – to overcome fear and be in a playful, creative state. So we do all kinds of cool improv games, tricks and approaches to finding, tuning into that place that’s generous and playful and supports creative space. So I just kind of pass along what I’ve learned really, it’s not like I’m some kind of guru or anything. I’ve had a very unusual path of learning, and some of it is very practical and direct.