another day on planet circus

May 6, 2008

Now today its ten to eleven Tuesday morning and I have a break between working with Rodrigue who created the role. He’s an exceptional guy and we spend some time watching video and he explaining aspects of show. He does point out, since he is an actor like me, that there is always a long session of trying to include as much theatricality into the show as possible which often, as the time to open approaches, is washed out by the spectacle of the acts. But anyway he describes with sensitivity and a thick Canadian French accent who Sgt Pepper is. For him, Pepper is more the personage or symbol or manifestation of the old guard Britain in the 1940’s going bravely and nobly to war, who is then bombed and in the midst of his own war and destruction and left broken and confused and a bit mad. Drifting amongst the ruins picking up pieces of broken instrument which he puts together with broken bits of car to make new instruments. All is shattered. Then the sound of rock n roll arrives and it is even more confusing and disorientating. He staggers around trying to make sense of the new generation. His madness continues to grow until he has an insight through eastern mysticism and psychedelia when he turns his jacket inside out and becomes a soldier of love leading a new band toward love peace and the whole damn thing. Looks like I will have some time on stilts as well.


There is more sense now to the role and character and some through-line. No great psychology or emotional challenges – just making a movement text which will reflect the emotional shifts and make some sense in the venue and in the context of the style of the show. No real interactions with other characters either at this stage. Rodrigue, the more we talk, speaks to me as actor and I begin to have a sense that there is room to play even, if just a little. He shows me some of the Sgt Pepper walks or different march forms. There are four; the normal marching band with baton placement

Same thing at slow funeral pace

Super slow walk without static accent

March with baton lift and extend


I get those down fairly easily (having loved cadets at school I admit) and having grown up listening to Scottish military bands .. loving the tattoos and marching around the playroom over and over to the sound of massed pipes. Also I used to cut marching sticks; batons and played at being a drum major. No, not really being the drum Major but doing what he does with the baton. I had a favourite one; cut from the holly bushes outside the front door. It was straight and firm. I cut it and treated it with oil before waiting long enough for it to dry out; so it dries funny; lots of cracks and unevenness. But I loved it and I would march the garden flat tossing this thing up and catching it and marching away the afternoon. Funny boy that Andrew. Zorro cape and sword the one week then beating up the bolster cushions in some imaginary fight with Roy Rogers the next. Lots of time in solo fantasy games. Sounds a bit like Sgt Pepper. Anyway all this stood me in good stead for the rehearsal today and learning some marches. I have another session this afternoon with Danielle who works with Rodrigue on the conducting and jacket removal and hat handling. I need to spend some time with baton.


Still no wireless connection in my room. Maybe it only comes on in the afternoon. Perhaps I can get down to the café and give Janet a call and post some more of this on the blog. Bit nerve wracking having started this. Created a monster which will be very demanding. But I have signed up for a year of challenges.


Its now five thirtyish and back home. Good afternoon. Lunch with Daniel and a couple of Cirque office people. Head of training coordination. And others. Friendly and interesting chat. Then I have a rehearsal with Danielle who works with Rodrigue and it’s a goody. Very nice to hand over and be directed. The choreography of Rodrigue is deceptively simple. I mean it contains subtle detail which looks simple and easy but requires great focus and coordination. Very nice to have it broken down and coached through it. Made me look differently at the role as made by him. The other guy on the dvd we saw first does not have the same attention to detail. So good 90 minutes of rehearsal. Then signing of contracts and then Daniel and I home. Daniel to sleep and I to Maxi’s for some supplies. Wine cheese fruit and milk. Still no wireless connection in my room. If I wasn’t expecting it to mysteriously reappear the way it mysteriously appeared it would be fine. However.


Its Wednesday afternoon. Break between independent training session in studio E with the band leader’s baton and a cancelled make up session and a stilt walking class. Day pretty full; head cast; full head swallowed by weird pink gel that takes fine detail of face, then plaster over whole head. Just nostrils open. I was nervous when I woke up because I still had a bit of hay fever so snotty nose but actually it went fine. I found it quite relaxing actually; no choice but to sit quietly, think abut the breath and just be with yourself; kind of meditative. Then off to individual yoga class with … forgotten her name. a bit gruelling. My hips don’t lie; they are very stiff and inflexible. But a happy time. Then a rehearsal with Danielle on Sgt Pepper marches; work with hat and also band leader baton. Some more detail and then with Rodrigue tomorrow. Then lunch with Daniel and then met Masha. It was weird; saw her face and thought ‘I am sure I have met that person’ and went on. Then later caught her eye and she said ‘hello Andrew’ and I say ‘hi where have we met?’ she says ‘we haven’t but you probably recognize my voice’ and there she is. Daniel walks up and says he had the same experience.


Then make-up session cancelled so an hour and a bit in studio E with the baton started to find some moves. All these hours of fun in the garden paying off. I could never reconcile it cos I didn’t want to be a soldier but I loved marching and throwing the stick. And now they are going to pay me to do it. If I get it right. Difficult to work and concentrate because over there are the Russian trampoline champions doing a routine and here next to me are the Spanish guys, no sorry they are French Canadian skillies doing seesaw tumbling with ludicrous grace and elegant skill. The atmosphere so focused but some how still alternative and unconventional; lots of dreads and tattoos and funky clothes and ridiculous hairstyles and cool attitudes – friendly and open. The Russians in the apartments are a bit cold and stick to themselves. Not even Daniel has thawed them except for one guy apparently.


Must go for my stilt class ha ha ha.  O yes, going to a clown cabaret tonight.

One Response to “another day on planet circus”

  1. charlotte Says:

    Oh Andrew this is fascinating! Keep on writing it is wonderful to read. And in this small world here it is like a window. Sounds as if you are doing great adn I can see why I am not an actor! I knew a lot of stuff went into interpretation of roles but boy! more than I ever imagined! No wonder you are soo good! H’s m b! Yessss!

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