touch down on planet circus

May 19, 2008

Re-watching the training tape with me and Rodrigue for LOVE it is striking that the costume and opening section of Dreamland have extraordinary resonances with Sgt Pepper. Military uniform, age, disorientation and clutching a cello. The size and style of the performance. The non verbal mimic nature of it. The size of the venue and the style of the work all have strange and uncanny synchronicity.

Also; strange thing in the hotel; I am a non believer. I don’t believe in ghosts and spirits and psychic events. I believe they are explanations of psychological or some other mental activities which we don’t yet understand . But; so Quanita reports that she is convinced there is a ghost in her room. I quietly but respectfully poo-poo her notion while listening to it. Then two nights later… no during the day I am sleeping in the hotel room. I have lain down on top of the bed and fall asleep. I dream that I am sleeping on top of the bed just as I am and suddenly I feel a very heavy pressure, like a body, lying on top of me. It is invisible abut very palpable. Scary and very real and as though I am only half awake. There is also something a bit sexual about the pressure. I describe this to Quanita and Nick, who overhears, points to Quanita and says ‘That’s exactly what she felt.’ ‘Yes,’ she says, ‘Pressure on the chest; the feeling that someone was pushing down on me and then standing at another point in the room.’ Pretty weird. I mean weird that we should both have the same psychological reaction to the context and events…( dee dee dee dee – twilight zone theme)

A few hours of funny and upbeat layover in Harare airport in which the company clowns a good deal with eachother as we try to divest ourselves of millions of Zim dollars before going home. Sibu helps me choose some great clothes for Izzie, and we leave the land of my birth. Joburg hums in its welcomingly familiar way, and feels like home. Michael treats me to a gargantuan meal of sushi and prawns in Melville and I stagger into bed on the day before launch. We have a quick meeting with Nick Boraine about the possibility of extending the work of the play through another project with possible links to the Institute for Transitional Justice(sp). We plot a quick, probably too quick, proposal. The idea is to take the experience of the tour of Truth and the exercises and workshop structures to a wider spread of people in conflict zones. The idea is beautiful, and Nick is just perfect to drive it. Michael and I bid farewell over a Jamiesons in the airport and I am off. Three flights of ten hours, nine hours and three hours with some six hours in layovers. And every seat is in the middle of the middle row. Not one aisle seat not one window. What is this? Karma? What did I do?

Eventually turns out not too bad. The flight attendant moves me in the middle of the night to an aisle seat further up the plane. Not quite further up to be in business class but at least an aisle seat. I am settling in and a woman returns from the loo and says; ‘That’s my seat.’
‘I am sorry the flight attendant just put me here. Okay I’ll move to the one next to it.’
‘No that’s also mine.’
‘Both seats are yours?’
‘Yes I was lying down.’
‘Oh I am not sure what to do because the flight attendant moved me to give room to a woman so she could sit with her husband and child, so my old seat back there is gone.’
‘Yes but these are my seats.’
‘Okay I don’t want to argue with you, I am just doing what I have been told like the well brought up catholic boy.’
‘Yes thank you, these are my seats.’
I stagger up the aisle and find the stocky flight attendant who thumps back down the aisle and craps on the woman who then flouncily shifts her feet up and lies on the now three seats instead of four which she had before I got moved. She continues to sulk with her feet while I stretch out and try to sleep. Later her husband/partner guy lies down in her place and spends the next hour or so farting at me in subtle latino nuances. I suspect he does this in revenge for being forced to speak to his harridan wife who wasn’t sleeping so well now that she only had three seats to stretch out on instead of four. The joys of international travel in economy class.

So it’s the morning of Thursday the 8th may. Day one of Las Vegas and some plenty or so to go…

Flying in by the time I got to looking out the window and seeing the desert I had been traveling for more than twenty eight hours and so it initially struggled to make much of an impact. But then it did. Actually a lot. Strange brown colour and rocky ruggedness all the way to the horizon. Patterns of erosion and water flow details in amazing fractal patterns as far the eye can see. And every now and again the brown shades broken by flashes of red rock bursting through the top soil. A huge dam, the Hoover Dam I learnt later from Nate and LaKiesha(sp?) the new Fool in the show and his girl friend. Very cool people who hospitably invite me in jet lagged delirium to a barbeque by the pool of the hotel.

I am met at the airport by Carlos who will be fetching me today for my appointment to get a social security number. Some few other of the dancers – two South Africans, Mike and Campbell; very good to meet them and also Lincoln who plays Mr Piggy. English actor with fun dry sense of humour and who has been in the show since creation and so has a very specific view of the process. Altogether feel welcomed by other artists and today have a schedule that takes me from social security to some HR orientation the to theatre tour and then to physio intake evaluation this evening. Can’t wait to see the show.
The city is overrun with casinos (surprise) but is much bigger than I had imagined. Spread over a huge valley including many residential areas. Will go out with Dan next week or so to look for places to rent once we are finished here in the hotel. Last night jet lag and unfamiliar bed meant that I slept in hour long bursts. Feel okay now but will probably need a nap or two to adjust. Room high speed internet connection I am happy to say. I waited up until ten or so my time to try and ensure a long sleep but it didn’t really work also I waited up to be able to call Janet in the morning before she went to work. Managed to get skype to give us very ragged and interrupted voice contact. Tried with chat and finally got in touch just as she was going out to the monument to oversee the girls dancing.

I sit now typing and listening to Mbira Dzenharire and repeating the songs learnt in Zim; one the Xhosa song taught by Thembi and Sibu about the bones of the ancestors gathering to the call and the other song a call to freedom in Ndebele. Want to avoid letting go of these things so African and so buried in my bones don’t you know, now that I am buried in Americana.

So day one in Las vegas. Well night one was fraught with lack of sleep and unfamiliar bed and waking every hour or so and thinking where the hell am I and the answer coming back ‘Vegas, dude…’ and then back into troubled half sleep. For some reason, perhaps the dry or perhaps the foot-swelling-prevention flying socks that I wore for the thirty odd hours of travel, the excema behind my knee exploded about half an hour out of Chicago. But better now through uncompromising discipline of no scratch and some anti-itch moisturizing cream from the supermarket. But finally awake at 5.00 am and so up and showered and shaved which took an entire pack of disposable razors, but the result not too shabby, if a touch flabby round the jowls. Go in to the offices and encounter the father son thing in spades…’oh my god you’re the dad, you look so much alike!’ ‘Yes.. strong genes … what? Yes he’s a good boy, yes charming very nice and if he’s not then I will tell his mother so he’s better watch out.’ ‘Yes very well brought up thank you…’ It used to be; ‘Him? Oh yes, he’s Andrew Buckland’s son.’ And now? ‘Him? Oh yes, he’s Daniel Buckland’s father.’

One Response to “touch down on planet circus”

  1. Irene Stephanou Says:

    21 December 2008
    If there is anyone out there – Andrew or Daniel – I am in Vegas at Circus Circus for 2 nights only.

    If you can, I would love to connect – via the hotel or +27 82 571 3887 or 626 437 4936


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