More than Just Acting
By Judy Sasson
San Miguel de Allende is fortunate to have as many as 83 NGOs dedicated to improving social welfare through various initiatives, all of which have left their mark on the various sectors in which they are involved. One might think that these organizations, working together with government agencies, should be more than able to address all of the social problems that arise day by day. Unfortunately, society, like a dynamic living organism undergoing constant change, needs to be understood by our leaders and civil society. In spite of the positive change each project helps bring about, there is always room for improvement in meeting the evolving needs of the community.
Christian Baumgartner, actor, theater director and acrobat originally from Venezuela, arrived in Mexico 14 years ago to study acting in Mexico City, before moving to San Miguel, which he now calls home and where he has spent much of his career, building his reputation in the local theater community as a talented, versatile performer. He has played a variety of roles, including that of clown; alcoholic brother (“Long Day’s Journey into Night”); prisoner and transvestite (“Kiss of the Spider Woman”); and the illustrious Mexican free thinker El Nigromante, (“El Circo Fantasma”), to name just a few.
After a day of rehearsals and performances, Christian returns to his home in the community of Los López, on the road to La Cieneguita, with its dusty streets of cactus, mesquite and huisache—a transitional zone between San Miguel and the countryside. Like Christian, some of its approximately 500 inhabitants must commute several kilometers from their home to their workplace. Los López has schools, a health center and public services that meet residents’ basic needs. But increasingly, as in other cities and towns, the community has had to deal with the impact of modern life and technology, including excessive cellphone use, the influence of video games on youth, and lack of exercise among children.
In Los López, Christian saw a great need for improving psychomotor skills and general fitness levels among young people, and he now welcomes local children and youth to his regular private aerobatics classes, free of charge. In his latest project, Christian wants to address the current situation using the tools available to him, and through his talent and hard work has been in the process of establishing a community “Cirkus” school. In the short term, the school aims to promote corporal expression and provide a space for learning and practicing the performing arts, particularly aerobatics. In the medium and long term, the goal is to create a sustainable circus company to perform in other communities and provide children and young people complementary training to their normal curriculum at affordable prices. In order to accomplish this, Christian needs a support network and platform to launch the initiative. He is hopeful that with the support and involvement of the entire community, whether direct or indirect, his project will come to fruition.
On Thursday, November 7, Christian will be performing his one-man show, El Circo Fantasma [The Ghost Circus]. This will be a great opportunity for the public to learn more about Christian and his “Cirkus” school project, as well as enjoy a wonderful evening of family entertainment. Teatro Ángela Peralta, at 5:30pm. Tickets 150, 100 and 50 pesos.