pride and joy on planet circus

July 5, 2008

Just got news of the birth of our second granddaughter. Mother, father and baby doing fine. Five weeks prem and very small but no need for incubator, off the oxygen and in neonatal clinic. Enough to lift anyone’s depression. Except that it is a measure of my folly that I am a few thousand miles away at the time, but who knew. I am liquid with pride and excitement. Thank you Matthew and Bridget.


Looking at the calendar I have worked out that it is day 94 and we have played the show about 60 times… days are filled with waking around 6.00 with the sun streaming in and then again around 9.00am. This gives me usually about 6 or 7 hours sleep. Plenty. I have a lot of energy when I take care and don’t drink too much on the weekend. By too much I mean more than two beers. I can feel myself getting fitter. Then chores and skype home for daily dose of sanity. It’s been over ninety days since leaving home and will soon be in the arena of the longest Janet and I have been apart since I was in the army in our first year of marriage. (Very different story with skype and a few years on my age and approaching thirty three years marriage…) Then into the Mirage and the high training room. We are fortunate to have been befriended by Nate and Keisha (whom you may have met in previous blogs) and they live a few miles further west and are able and willing to stop off at Trader Joe’s and pick us up for a ride in and out again if our schedules coincide. Without a car it is inconvenient but the community feeling in the cast is such that there is always someone willing to give us a ride til we get ourselves a car. Ekenah the mad Brazilian acrobat and character actor (skabadoo skabadee!!! yeh yeh yeeeeeh !! ) (his clown whoop of joy for life) even offered to lend us his car til we got one. He shares a house with a few of the skaters, many of whom have cars. Oh yes our dressing room. So there is Jeffrey the 20?21 year old gymnast and dancer who plays one of the Nowhere Men who sits next to me. The room if cramped for what you’d expect from Cirque, but not the Mirage… well no, not them either actually. The whole theatre was adapted from the theatre built for Siegfried and Roy the illusionists who used to work with white tigers…? And then one of them was attacked on stage by one of the tigers and the show closed…? Anyway the dressing room is cramped and filled with many of the ‘personage’ or ‘characters’ in the show. That is performers playing characters rather than dancers and acrobats. So Jeffrey the (worldly wise for his age) well traveled dancer and gymnast sits generously farting and burping in the corner as well as providing specific personal insights into the history of the show. Then me, then next to me is Valerie from Ukraine. He is a huge barrel chested baby faced bear of a man. A highly trained and skilled acrobat who has pictures of his young son all over the mirror. He also has pics of himself in the Ringling Brothers Circus and training in Ukraine as the porter for a six man balancing act. Four or five men standing on top of him (stopped counting after the third). He spends a lot of time talking in Russian to Eugen from Uzbekistan who is a whole blog on his own. Four years or so with Cirque in creation and performance of O, and the role named after him. A brilliant performer with a history in and deep love of theatre, he has built two theatres in his house in Las Vegas. The first built and destroyed for many reasons, one of them his break down. But the present one in his garage and fully operational. Tall, very tall and thin and with huge double jointed hands and feet, he plays Father Mackenzie; a demented priest who wanders the stage preaching in Germanic gibberish with four hands and a bible and umbrella and eyebrows hanging to his nipples. Wow this is going to take a while. Then Jimmy brilliant dancer and actor, proudly Creole from Los Angeles. Ever cheerful and energetic with a laugh like a John Coltrane saxophone solo and Californian speech rhythms like Lionel Hampton. They have installed a sound system in the dressing room with HUGE speakers and every day new music appears brought by each person in the group. We listen to Bach one day then Philip Glass then the Eagles then hip hop then Deep Purple then Mars Volta then Mozart. Mostly at high volume as we make up together. One the other side of the room divider sits Joel Baker beautifully gentle, highly skilled, (soon to be married to Argentinian beauty; Samantha) clown from San Fransisco who was schooled by Jeff Raz and has spent time in Pickle Family Circus, and also Seven Fingers of the Hand. (This is a wondrous company of ex Cirque performers now with their own company who travel the world. Check them on the net. Sept Doigts de la Main.) Ekenah who every day looks into the mirror and is shocked to see that today he has become even more beautiful than yesterday. Even through a shocking bout of flu which infected most of the company and practically every one in the dressing room, he stayed up-beat and with extraordinary good spirits. An uncrushable enthusiasm for life and good humour. Infectious too.  Skabadee!! Skabadoo!! Yey! Yey!Yeeeeey! I watched him practicing on the acro wall yesterday while I was practicing stilts. Breathtaking. He played the red guy (parrot?) in La Nouba. Enough to lift any depression. (acro-wall? Basically a vertical wall next to a trampoline. By using the trampoline skillfully the acrobat can walk up the wall with the sublime rhythm of … can’t find the image. Watch an excerpt on You Tube. Drops the jaw, stops the heart and induces ‘ahs!’ of joy like firework displays

3 Responses to “pride and joy on planet circus”

  1. Almostgotit Says:

    Was your granddaughter born today? As in, July 5? Then she shares a birthday with P.T. Barnum (of Ringling Bros & Barnum & Bailey Circus) SPEAKING of circuses, that is!

  2. matt Says:

    Stella is in high care now and doing well… still tiny, but putting on weight. The nurses describe her as “wriggly”. I can tell already she’s going to be naughty.

  3. Tamara Says:

    Hey AB, I’m loving your blog. Totally get the blues attacks brought on by current conditions in Zim & SA & all the bizarities going on in Mbekiland, Zumaland, Zanuland, Malemaland etc. Delighted to hear the news about teeny Stella – congrats to the whole clan. Beeg love,

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