love and training on planet circus

June 16, 2008

I had strength and conditioning training with Jeff from the Cirque Health Services… no wait they are now called Performance Medicine department…? Something like that. We spent some more time working the upper body strength which I want to build in order to get near (a perhaps vain hope of) starting the Korean rope climb which I would love to include in the Sgt Pepper track as soon as I can. Which might, with luck and a great deal of hard work, be in a few months time. We are taking baby steps but it is a great feeling to have such experts spend such time with one’s effort in whatever; Pilates, strength and conditioning, stilt walking etc. and being a student again. My arms shoulders, chest and back are aching and very pleasantly stiff.


When the assistant artistic director… is it James? Or… yes, James, said that this company was renowned for speaking their minds at meetings, it struck me that is because this company is so full of love. Having been through the very difficult experiences of creation there is extraordinary respect for each other. More than I have seen in most companies in theatre. Except for one. So when there is a meeting this respect is shown in that every member of that company feels free to speak the truth to each other without fear of discrimination or judgement. Unconditional acceptance. The focus is on the diversity of experience and opinions. The family of circus is made of diversity. (Why do we call the “places of higher learning” uni-versities? I want to work at a diversity. I am interested in a multiversity or at least a diversity. Not a uni-versity. The circus is the university of diversity.)



Herewith a short, well not very short, description of my ‘track’ through the show. In Prologue Sgt Pepper opens the show with a slow march across the smoke filled space of the stage . His course is across a narrow bridge with chasms to right and left and the illusion is of an ageing military man walking determinedly onwards over clouds. As he does so he is leaving the world of the conscious and moving into dream. Into the smoke and over the invisible bridge with the gaping maws to left and right. All this with an incredibly bright spotlight in his eyes which lights up the smoke to so as to make the universe (from his perspective) completely white. Determinedly holding the solemn pace and the straight path I step like a warrior into the face of enemy fire.  Each step a step of faith and determination and constant vigilance and courage and bravery in the face of imminent death. (Yes here I am in the circus, folks; the opening act, leader of the first parade. Setting the theatrical, emotional undertone of the play. The ageing soldier leading the parade of four young Nowhere men into the imaginary world of circus and physical visual performance. (What an incredible display of courage and skill! Heart stopping tension! “Will he stray from the path and fall into the smoking pit on either side?”) The bridge stretches eastwards towards runway six from which we descend into the underworld of the subconscious.


There, Sgt Pepper finds himself in a dream of conducting a vast magical musical experience beyond what he could possibly imagine when conscious. A beautiful dream of flying bodies and air catches and dancers and confetti and flying nurses. All to a music (strange to his ears) from the spheres. Strange and rhythmically exciting and thrilling and explosive and rockin’ man! (Get Back from the Beatles final performance on the rooftop on Saville Row) But as so often happens in one’s dream his body is moving slower than the music. He seems caught in slow motion, while the music explodes around him.  Yet he knows he is instrumental in the conducting of this orchestra of rock and roll and physical, visual, rhythmic poetry.


Until the dream becomes a nightmare of air raid sirens as the blitzkrieg of Liverpool during the Second World War is evoked with buildings collapsing, masonry flying, bodies falling, smoke explosions and cries of panic. Sgt Pepper’s real and dream world is shattered. And the devastation includes the music which is his soul. He quickly goes insane and becomes a street dweller collecting old broken instruments and orphans and fools and mad men. The world around him descends again into more confusion as Rock and Roll arrives with its attendant youthful rebellious energy and intolerance for his age. He flees into the night screaming “HELP!”


Come to think of it, this description will more likely be delivered in episodes. Here endeth the first one.

4 Responses to “love and training on planet circus”

  1. I am so profoundly happy for the most deserving clown this country has ever spawned! Well bladdy done!! You continue to be an inspiration for so many people who have had the privilege of your influence!
    Love Bevan

  2. Hey Andrew, Ian Fraser here, now US based – welcome to Corporate Amerika in all its fearsome glory 🙂
    Saw some SA article mentioning you were joining the Cirque franchise, nice one! Sounds like you’re having fun. Watch out for the high fructose corn syrup and generally vile food! Drop me a mail via this place – or via the ‘Contact’ button on my site at

    Good to see someone with your skills and talents, getting to strut yer stuff on US stages!

  3. Duncan Says:

    Andrew! These fantastical glimpses into the your world are wonderful wonderful, can’t stop reading. Please give Dan a big Joburg hug from me. Hope the new house becomes a happy base for the two of you over the next year. Much Respect. And Love! Duncan

  4. Drew, its really good to start understanding what youre doing in performnce. keep u the comms, it really makes you feel closer. warm love Kate

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