Performers Without Borders – Article as in Kaskade issue 112, nov 2013

November 13, 2013

Performers Without Borders (charity no. 1121236) are a UK based charity who work using circus and performance to help vulnerable children in developing countries. In 2014 we will be coordinating 3 Performers Without Borders (PWB) tours – our 6th in India, 2nd in Nicaragua and 1st in Sierra Leone. A month is spent in each location, working with partner organisations such as slum schools and orphanages. PWB believe that through engaging with and learning performance and circus skills, children can develop their social skills, team work and confidence, overcome social barriers and realise their full potential. We send teams of between 4 and 9 volunteers to perform and teach children circus and performance skills and at the end of the month the children have the opportunity to create their own show – with PWB’s help – which they perform to their peers, families or local communities. PWB aim to build long term relationships with their partners and return year on year to the same organisations to build on and improve the skills and talents of the children. We have had great success in India where the children in Varanasi now perform their annual gala show – involving theatre, comedy, circus, fire, dance and music acts – to thousands of people. Their first show was to 100 or so locals in a car park! In Nicaragua this year, the team were amazed at how quickly the children learnt new skills – performing 3 clubs and 6 club passing and a unicycle being ridden after just 8 hours of (very dedicated) practise. We have since been sent videos of the children performing in their local school and town with acts they developed themselves! Social circus is not a new idea – indeed, in a 1988 issue of Kaskade (Issue 13, 27th August) there is an article detailing the experiences of ‘Jugglers For Peace’, a group who spent weeks in Nicaragua performing across the country. There is Cirque Du Monde, Circus to Iraq and Clowns Without Borders, not to mention projects such as the youth circus partnership between Wiesbaden (Germany) and Ocotal (Nicaragua). PWB will be visiting Ocotal this year and aim to arrange a meeting with other youth circus projects in Nicaragua. Performers Without Borders was born from the meeting of two jugglers in 2006, Matt Morris and Jonny Forbes. Both studied international development as well as being strongly involved with the London juggling scene and together decided to combine their two passions into a project that could grow and develop – and so PWB was born. If you are interested in becoming involved with PWB, our tours start in January and run for 6 weeks – 4 months, depending on the tour. Applications for volunteers open in May/June – join our mailing list or become our friend on Facebook for updates. You can support us by donating old circus equipment or becoming one of the PWB FAB500 by donating £2 or more per month via our virgin money giving page. See http://www.performerswithoutborders.org.uk

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