love and controlled explosions on planet circus

July 9, 2008

Forgot to mention Daniel is in the same dressing room in between Ekenah and Joel on the other side of the room divide. (Also; Ekenah who played ‘the red guy (parrot?)’ in La Nouba..? It was the Pierrot Rouge not the red parrot…) ( he showed me the video of his work in rehearsal. Sublime. Beyond my powers of verbal description)


Otherwise we are frequently visited in the dressing room by Nate Cooper, who plays the Fool of the show. Nate is a brilliantly witty and highly skilled clown with uncanny rectal control and an ever ready fart to undercut any hint of pomposity expressed in his vicinity. (much to his girlfriend’s chagrin) Nate is a radiant tap-dancer/juggler/unicycle-rider and multiply skilled gent and VERY funny human being. He is partnered by LaKeisha a vision of sexy grace, fierce intelligence, humour and beauty and both share a generosity of spirit which has been a source of much comfort and transport for us. Always ready to braai (sorry ‘grill’) and entertain and make their home open, they are a joy to know, but otherwise we can’t stand them and make every effort to avoid them but they keep insisting on giving us lifts home after work…



Got a chance to watch the show twice the other night due to the policy of rotation whereby the actor who understudies Pepper is given a chance to play the role every month or so. Highly illuminating. Made me want to Get Back into the show and was a pleasant surprise four day week for me.


So Andrew, you had a chance to see the show on Sunday, would you like to say anything to the company?


Oh my gosh what a surprise. But… lucky for me I prepared a speech in case this might happen. Lucky for you it’s a short one. Actually it’s more like a lecture. In it I want to say one thing. Watching the show again reminded me of the privilege I have of sharing the stage with such a group of artists. And also it made me think of my own frustration in performance. Sometimes I look around and think; ‘Wait a minute what the fuck are you doing here? You can’t juggle, your flick-flack isn’t worth shit, you can’t even do a respectable handstand and you are working in a circus…’ I am a ‘wannabe acrobat’… wait , no I’m actually a ‘wished I coulda been an acrobat’.

In the show I do my best to work at more than one hundred per cent of what I am capable of, but I use only about ten percent of my theatre skills. But then I realise that this is because, of course, I am no longer working in theatre. This work is something distinct.

What struck me about the show besides its beauty was the fact that, now knowing the company… or let us say knowing many of the players better, it is clear that the show demands no more than ten percent of the real skills and abilities which every one in the company has to give and would love to give. And so what emerges on stage is the unstated potential that every one has but with humility puts aside in favour of the show. In favour of the ethos of the show which speaks of ego-less and unconditional love. (High ideas, romantic, high falutin’ notions, I know, but hear me out.) Something else begins to appear on the stage which wouldn’t be there if every single person was not committed to the one vision of the show despite the difficulties they have had with creation, with the process with the many aspects of the continuance of the show. A third force begins to become apparent which is an expression of this wealth, this well of talent and commitment and hard work and practice and determination and courage which the audience doesn’t witness and isn’t even consciously aware of. This potential is present on the stage like a hidden explosive charge ready to go off at any second. The show works as a series of poetically, physically and musically controlled explosions, in which the truth about us as human beings is detonated by viewing us in extremis – with our lives and bodies on the line physically and emotionally.

Cirque’s survival depends absolutely one hundred per cent on the extraordinary integrity and honesty and courage of the performers who perform the shows, and maintain the spirit expressed by the inspirational vision which created this phenomenon.


If Cirque was inspired by the idea of making work conceived, designed and performed in order to make life better for people in the world, then it is this ability of artists and technicians to subdue their egos for the sake of a communal vision which makes this possible. And as always, in my view, it is the artists and technicians themselves, (not the corporate-mind-suits whose job it is to ‘grow the brand’) who keep this spirit of Cirque alive. Make no mistake, I am very grateful to those same suits for the salary I send home, every month. I am mindful that without their business acumen and ability to thrive in adverse economic circumstances I would not be employed, so I consider myself extremely lucky to have this job. But I consider myself moreso hugely privileged to work with such a group of artists and technicians. (a loud fart from the Fool)


(voice from the crowd) ‘Bla bla bla. Yes, yes, whatever. Can we get on with Tapis Rouge please…’


Every artist performing in the show should have a regular opportunity to watch the show. Every body earns it.

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