Honk, honk, ring a ding ding: this is the sound that the city sings.

January 31, 2012

After 52 hours of trains, tuk tuk’s, platform juggling/unicycle practice and samosa eating we arrived in Varanasi.

Most of us were elated, many were exhausted and all were excited about arriving in this gloriously hectic, ancient city.

We trouped up the steps, over the platforms and into the station, dripping with kit bags, finding paths between the multicolored sleeping bodies that carpeted the floor.  A gigantic black and dusty bull entered from the street outside parting the crowds like one of Tom’s firework farts!

Winding through the bustle, in auto-rickshaw’s brimming with tricks, we arrived at the Ganga Guest House: our home for the coming month. A late night snack of delicious egg roll street food, then slumped into bed.

After the morning to explore and do a few chores we readied ourselves for meeting and performing to the children of Asha Deep Vidayashram.

On route to the school, children ran past us waving colored flyers shouting “Circus, circus, circus!” They knew we were coming and their excitement was infectious. We were greeted with frantic hands and clambering bodies, climbing to our shoulders and delighting at being spun and twirled like rag dolls.

The show at dusk was a great success (despite a few tired slip ups) with a quieter, but more focused audience than that at Kudle.  After gorging on thali and debriefing from the show, we crashed out, knackered from the physical and sensory overload.

We couldn’t crash for long, as we had another show to prepare for; a show performed on the Ghats (steps leading down to the Holy waters of the Ganga) in front of hundreds (or maybe thousands!) of people. The Indian audience (from children to Bubba’s- Indian holy men), although typically unresponsive during the show, loved it and treated us like celebrities afterwards.

For the first time our audience was in 360 degrees, as the concept of front and back stage was lost in translation.  We were also competing with the noise of booming sound systems, processing sacred statues down to the waters accompanied by a drumming band.  The challenges were over come by our flexible cast and added to the enjoyment of performing to a different culture.

Many of our students returned for a second viewing and took the lead in audience participation. We were also gifted another unicycle for the

school by an audience member who had toured with an Italian circus for many years.  The experience was uplifting and appreciated; certainly enough to give us a buzz and make us excited and impatient to begin the teaching!

Gem’s has done a fantastic job of editing the video footage of the bootcamp of the first two shows – have a look and a laugh.

A collection of photos from the team are also uploaded on our flickr account;  take a peek.

Bending Over Backwards to Entertain the Beach Bums

January 31, 2012

To end a fantastic 2 weeks of training, planning, games playing, skill sharing and show writing, we performed for the first time as a group, to the multinational audience at Kudle beach.  We had spent the previous few days advertising the show and debating the quality of sand at various points of the beach, to determine whether the planned unicycle tricks would be of spinning success or sinking dread.

As we descended the hill, towards the beach, ladened with hoops, clubs, wheels, staffs and smiles that were disguising our varying degrees of nerves, we saw that an eager crowd had already formed waiting to be entertained and amazed.

By the time we had set up stage the whole beach and more had gathered around our sand filled circus ring. With the sun setting over the waves on our right and the jungle behind us, we faced our smiling audience and the show commenced.

Mystic D our “Magical” ring master rallied and hyped (though most of the Kudle kids could do with de-hyping; many had to be removed from the stage a few times!), tricked and delighted.  Some even thought a secret tunnel had been dug to enable our ‘twins’ to appear from two different boxes – magic!  Jess’s snake charmed contortion act wowed and astounded even the accomplished Yogi’s.

After a group fire dance finale, the appreciation of the audience became apparent. Our collection plates were filled and we were overwhelmed by the generosity and encouragement of the audience.  We raised around around 12,800 RPSfor PWB.  It was a really uplifting and bonding experience for the group and set us off with a spring in our step for the next stage of our tour.

Fun at the Kudle beach circus bootcamp….

January 15, 2012

Hello everyone,

We have arrived in India, all of us, more or less intact and now enjoying the peace of our bootcamp location and haven of Kudle beach, Gokarna. We have begun our tour preparations away from the continuous honks of Mumbai traffic, the persistant calls of the various wallahs and the distinct smells that are unique to the big cities of this vibrant land.

Our show is steadily coming together: complete with silly magicians, monkeys and cheesy dances. We are also learning to become expert teachers, learned travellers and masters of the ever so helpful (and unhelpful!) Indian head wobble.

Our days are really full with so much to learn and plan. The continuous (but very welcome!) sun makes it quite full on for us too! Our sunset swims in the sea and juggling on the beach are certainly hugely enjoyable at the end of a long day.

Next week we will perform our show here on Kudle beach, before making the 2 days train journey north eastwards to the oldest recorded city in the world, Varanasi. We will there begin our teaching and performing tour – surrounded by excited children, sacred cows and the holy Ganges river.

Until then we are enjoying this time getting to know each other, our strengths, our maybe-not-strengths-quite-yet (!) and as it is impossible to hide in India living so closely together, the ever changing patterns of our bowel movements.

We have a great group and are all massively excited to be taking part in this project – so thank you again to all of you who have supported us to help us be here.

Photos and videos and more updates will follow soon.

Much love from the PWB team of 2012.