first steps on planet circus

May 29, 2008

It’s the end of the second day of training and rehearsal and tonight I watched the show and fell in love with it straight away. The vision is exquisite. The execution is breathtaking for the most part and the entire experience awe-inspiring.


It is the most extraordinary privilege to be in the midst and sharing the stage with such amazing talent and skill and dedication and commitment and courage and humility and coolness. A truly humbling experience. A world beating call to order and wake up call and heads up, all in one or two days and one performance. The opportunity to play a character which might not have the sexiest moments of comedy but which contributes to the whole in a small but significant way and plays one of the supports that allows others to fly…


Speaking of which, I have been imagining Sgt Pepper flying over the audience during the Sgt Pepper reprise; the earth-bound early twentieth century mentality and world view is liberated by the music of the youth in which he invests his life. Also; why after the parade scene does he have to return to his military uniform? Is he not permanently changed right up to and beyond his apparent transformation of the jacket reversal. He is a different character after that… okay so military and dignified and self aware but less uptight and more with the possibility of release. Moments of weirdness in the psychedelic moments. More play there before sober return to in control Pepper.


It struck me also watching the show and seeing the audience surrounding me that one of the reasons people come to LV is to see shows like this. Not just gamble and party. To see shows. To see live theatre. Not movies. They come for and expect spectacle. But Cirque happily leaves another flavour in the mouth and feeling in the gut. 



Two days of input from Dominic and Armand (sp?) the creators of the show give some direction for action and supplement the work being done by Jo the acting coach and Kati the artistic director of the show who’s job I do not envy. It feels a little that her authority and control is undermined by their visit rather than supported. We are given a range of instructions and also the sense that the vision is not effectively communicated. There is a kind of vagueness about the transmission of directorial info. There have been so many versions and each one has their favourite. Each one has the way they want to see it. So for Kati to coordinate that must be very difficult. I am happy though to continue exploring within the limits set by all input. Dominic stressed the military discipline dignity of Pepper in all situations never to lose the inner strength and inability to completely let go. He does not allow himself to display feelings. Even after his major transformation in the parade. I expressed my concern about Pepper in the Sgt Pepper reprise number when Pepper at present dances along with the company. It felt incongruous to me watching and did not follow Dominic’s insistence on maintaining the military reserve. I proposed the notion of Pepper slightly elevated liberated from the earth to which he is bound at the beginning of the play. This idea is fairly dismissively swept aside by Armand, but Dominic says, ‘Yes you have a point and I will think about it.’ Kati points out that Craig who plays the role now had learnt the Korean rope climb and that this was a possibility. I was reluctant because a truly difficult skill to learn. But afterwards I approached Dan the head acrobat coach and told him my thoughts. He asked ‘Do you think you are athletic enough to learn it?’ I say ‘I would like to try.’  He says ‘It’s a long way down the track so at least start with simple rope climbing and go from there.’ I am happy.


Something makes me skeptical about whether I will hear anything further on this  from Dominic. I ask in the open note session if he had any thoughts and he (a little defensively) said ‘No I am a slow creator and can’t wave a magic wand and solve the problem.’ Later, seeing me in the office, he repeats this so perhaps it will stay with him… He said to one of the other actors he is not a director, he is a writer and that makes sense because the notes he gives are expressions and descriptions of his original vision, concepts and sources and ideas. There is little which works with the specific dynamic of the individual actor to create a stage presence and performance which will serve the show. It is up to the actor to craft something from all the input from the previous player, the acting coach, the artistic director and the creator, much of which might well be contradictory.


This is the second of my first two days off. First weekend which this week falls on Monday and Tuesday. Monday woke early and did my laundry. I love doing laundry there is something very calming about the routine and especially pleasing is the folding of clothes as they come out the drier. Then to the bank and setting up an account and on line access and a system of transferring money to accounts back home. Helped by Travis and all set up. Then back home finish clothes, met by Nate and LaKeisha(sp?) for breakfast. We all seem to share the same hangover as last night I met them across the road at the brewers for a very interesting local beer and then a margharita and then a night cap with Dan in their room. One tequila too many and then to bed to find Janet on line and depressed with no contact on Mother’s day. I do not deal well with it as usual after a drink or two so we have better contact in the morning. Breakfast is at Blueberry Hill a pancake and breakfast place about a mile away. A walk there fills us up and a long walk home exhausts me. At two o’clock I stagger into bed and fall a sleep and stay that way til 4.30 this morning. Then on and off til 5.30 and up to the computer. Daniel and I are going to look at Elizabeth’s house today and perhaps some others. Elizabeth is the young acrobat who is going back to Quebec and is renting her house. Am enjoying the quiet dull of the day.

So with help from Nate and La Keisha (sp?) we get the car hire company to fetch us from the hotel and take us to their office and we hire a car. Well I hire actually and Daniel of the beautifully crafted hangover proceeds to direct us toward Salt Lake City until I engage my natural sense of direction which leads us back to the hotel and then down some slowly located routes to Elizabeth’s house. And we arrive only half an hour late. Hey it’s the first time I ever sat in the left while driving on the right and looked in the rear view mirror on my right. Took a while of careful concentration to get right. But we got there and managed to enjoy ourselves. Me especially when I accelerated slightly too quickly, not being used to an automatic car, which action would evoke the satisfying sound of Daniel’s groan of nausea as he was pressed back into the seat and his head thrown back… It was the only place either of us had the energy to go and look at and it took a good two hours. Staggered home fell into bed and slept until 1.30 or so. Then awake for two hours and then back to sleep til 5.30 and up…

One Response to “first steps on planet circus”

  1. […] andrewbuckland wrote a fantastic post today on “first steps on planet circus”Here’s ONLY a quick extractWe all seem to share the same hangover as last night I met them across the road at the brewers for a very interesting local beer and then a margharita and then a night cap with Dan in their room. One tequila too many and then to bed to … […]

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