Week 2 for Team Nicaragua: El Berrinche Ambiental

January 27, 2016

We headed out of bootcamp, maybe knowing each other a little too well. Loading all of our equipment into a nice Range Rover, we cruised in style to Granada with Jorge Tapia, a distant relative to Sandino (a leading Nicaraguan revolutionary in the 1920’s). After a 2 hour journey we arrived at “La Casa de las Botellitas” (the house of little bottles) the home of La Escuela de la Comedia y el Mimo (the school of comedy and mime) for a week long street arts gathering for Central American artists and other artists from around the world.

house of bottles

Casa de las Botellitas 

 

Monday started off with a healthy breakfast of gallo pinto which we ate for 2 meals a day, everyday, and headed off to a nearby island in Lake Nicaragua. We packed 40 people into a bus that should only hold 18 so we could all get to know each other through games and trust building exercises on the island. Then we sardined ourselves back to Casa de las Botellitas and got ready for a parade into town and the first big show of the festival. There were 2 shows held each day, one in town and one in La Palapa, a beautiful stage and practice space covered with a  thatched roof. All of the artists are performing and teaching for free on their own time at this event. Which I believe created a really amazing laid back energy, maybe sometimes a little too laid back.

Our day to day life started with breakfast which we tried to eat all together, a small meeting, and then classes for children from the local barrio. We started each morning with group games that lead into the workshops. The children’s workshops were coordinated and mostly run by Team PWB. We taught hula hoop, flow wand, poi, staff, diablo, and devil sticks to the children as well as a beginner slack line class. This is where some of us got to try our first Spanish speaking workshops! It was great to see their smiling faces each morning. Then workshops for the artists were held, followed by lunch (gallo pinto). After lunch we would get a little time to ourselves practicing or connecting with other artists before heading off for the afternoon shows in the city center.

The palapa

La Palapa

Wednesday was our first big show with the whole team happy and healthy in front of artists, locals, and passing tourists. Our stage was in front of La Casa de Tres Mundos, a beautiful colonial building in downtown Granada. If I may say so myself, it went off without a hitch! Some of us in P.W.B. performed solos there and under La Palapa throughout the week.

Saturday, the last day of the festival, we treated ourselves to a morning trip! Jacob got to drive us in a yellow school bus into a nearby volcano to Laguna de Apoyo. We spent the morning playing and swimming in the mineral waters inside the volcano. I also think it was a highlight for Jacob just to be able to drive the bus! We headed back to the house of little bottles and got to close the festival with our performance under La Palapa. Overall El Berrinche Ambiental was a great adaptation into the laid back Nicaraguan culture, as well as an opportunity to practice our first Spanish workshops and get to know some creative Central American artists. We felt so lucky to share and facilitate so much to such a unique event in Nicaragua.

Laguna De Apoyo

Laguna De Apoyo

Sunday morning Jorge Tapia picked us up and we headed back to Leon feeling ready to start our first big project. Berrinche

 

 

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PWB NICARAGUA 2016: A Bootcamp by the Beach

January 23, 2016

We’ve arrived in tropical Nicaragua and have been hard at work in paradise putting our show together, fine-tuning our plans for workshops, and just getting to know each other. Most of our team arrived in Managua on January 5th and were quickly whisked away to the beachside town of Las Peñitas to unite with the rest of us who had already arrived a few days prior.

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Meet Our Cast of Characters:

Jake

  • Country of Origin: England
  • Skills: Slack-rope, Juggling, Hat Manipulation, Angelic Trumpeting
  • On his third PWB tour

Aileen

  • Country of Origin: USA (California)
  • Skills: Contact staff, Flow wand, Acrobatics, Able to embody both genders at once
  • On her second PWB tour

Juniper

  • Country of Origin: USA (California)
  • Skills: Acrobatics, Poi and Staff, Juggling, Martial Dreadlocks
  • On her first PWB tour

Andy

  • Country of Origin: England
  • Skills: Juggling, Unicycle, Dance, Face of rubber
  • On his third (and a half) PWB tour

Rachel

  • Country of Origin: Australia
  • Skills: Hoop, Acrobatics, Partner Dance, Wielder of the hoop bumble-butt
  • On her first PWB tour

Racheli

  • Country of Origin: Israel
  • Skills: Clown, Acrobatics, Contact Improv, Musical Laughing
  • On her first PWB tour

Cesar

  •  Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Skills: Juggling, Hats, Contact Staff, Ser el Monstro
  • On his first PWB tour

Alex

  • Country of Origin: USA (Texas, kind of…)
  • Skills: Acrobatics, Juggling, Clown, Balloon twisting wizard
  • On his first PWB tour

The Setting:

Rigo’s Guesthouse in Las Peñitas turned into our bootcamp headquarters and boasted an attractive open air common room for a rehearsal space out of the sun, open air decks, and more hammocks than you could shake a stick at. Our daily schedule consisted of an early morning breakfast, followed by morning warm-ups and team-building games. Around mid morning we would jump into show development and rehearsal before breaking for lunch. After the heat of the day would pass, we each took turns leading a small workshop in as much Spanish as we could manage, which would turn into a mini language lesson. Then we’d spend the remainder of the day revisiting our show in the works, followed by dinner, evening activities, and finally bed. Working during the hot days has been grueling and our show is hardly short of physically exhausting stunts, so we never have any trouble getting to sleep.

The Show:

Nor does our show lack for enough talent. We have clowns, slack-rope walkers, hat tricks, flow wands, jugglers, hoops, poi and staff arts, and a full ensemble acrobatics and dance number for the grand finale. We tried to explore a theme of disconnection vs connection throughout the show expressed in this case through our character’s attachment to their mobile phones and hand held devices. The show opens with a bustling scene of people absorbed in their phones (cleverly pantomimed with juggler’s clubs) who trip, stumble, roll, and bend over each other nearly completely oblivious of the outside world. As the show progresses, our astute trickster character sneaks various circus props to people lost in the phone world giving them a fresh, open view of the world through the joy of circus while making off with their phones. By the end, our characters have come together as energised beings to create a grand dance/ acrobatic piece. Creating the show took communication, creative solutions to obstacles, and, above all, focus. Focus which was routinely broken as soon as the odd bird or flock of pelicans would fly over bringing all discussion to a grinding halt as everyone craned their heads to the sky to oooh and ahhh at the distracting wildlife.

The Day to Day:

But it’s not all mad skills, dedication, and bird-watching with this group. We’ve found the time to connect as a team. Each night we’ve been cooking delicious meals for 8 from food that we bought at the local mercado in Leon. We’ve been dipping into the ocean during lunch breaks and, after the day’s work is over, generally practicing, stretching, and relaxing with one another. With such a mix of talents and knowledge in the group, every one of us has been adding new skills to their repertoire be it juggling, dancing, acrobatics, or language. We’re filling up poster board after poster board with useful Spanish that would help us teach our workshops in the upcoming weeks and Cesar has been learning English. We’ve been learning songs, playing word games, and even took a night to watch “El Rey Leon” in Spanish. Osman and Angel, two young boys who live at the guesthouse, have also been helping our language skills as we’ve been giving them sample circus lessons and speaking Spanish with them. Osman, the elder boy at 12 years old, learned to juggle three balls in one day and was working on clubs, hula hoops, and diabolo by the end of the week.

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Already Hard at Work:

We had our first trial run “in the field” as it were, on Thursday Jan 14th, when we were invited to the local children’s day shelter just five minutes down the street from the guesthouse. We told them that the show would more be a sneak peek, work in progress sort of thing which they were fine with. Our first true challenge struck when we woke up that morning with 2 people bedridden with travel sickness. The day was spent reworking the show for 6 and taking care of our incapacitated fellow artists. Nonetheless, those of us who could marched down to the children’s shelter about mid afternoon and were greeted with a small army of curious faces packed into back patio of the shelter. The show, in spite of missing two people was very well received and turned into a mini workshop afterwards as kids attempted to ride the unicycle and spin plates. If our first trial show proved one thing to us, it was that performing in the tropics outdoors gets you exhausted, dirty, dusty, and drenched in sweat. All in a day’s work when you’re bringing smiles to the world.

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The Next Step:

As the week drew to a close we began to soak up the beachside as much as possible. We spent one evening making a bonfire on the beach and roasting a freshly caught fish over it, served with a salsa Cesar made which was spicy just to look at. The week had brought it’s obstacles as well aside from Rachel and Racheli’s bought of travel sickness. The water for the house was routinely on and off as construction down the street played havoc with the plumbing. One night, after visiting tourists had made a sandy mess of the indoor shower, we discovered the drain had been completely clogged and half filled with brackish water and a leaky faucet slowly adding more and more water to the mix. We took it upon ourselves to find a temporary solution and took turn bailing out the brackish sandy water while simultaneously plunging the shower drain. This turned somehow ended up with Jake plunging a diabolo to his stomach and Alex nearly elbow-checking Rachel when he was challenged to remove it. Sharing a common kitchen with other guests also created some confusion about what food was ours and the modest gas stove was hard pressed to get a pot of water boiling. Our host, Rigo, was more than gracious though and helped us out with rides in and out of Leon and even arranged a ride for us all the way into Granada where we are currently preparing to perform our show here at the festival Berrinche Ambiental. There will be plenty more on that adventure in the next blog a week from now. Hasta luego!


Kenya Team Bootcamp

January 22, 2016

IMG_5268Greetings from Team Kenya 2016 !

We have each written a haiku/quote about our time at bootcamp in Diani Beach, Mombasa.

Hope you enjoy them!

 

“We made it to Kenya

Running full pelt to the sea

Salty smiling sea”

-Abi

 

“Baboons in the house

Colobus high in the trees

Circus here to see!”

-Katie

 

“Throw yourself like a seed…

from your work you will be able

to one day gather

yourself.”

-Lillian (Miguel de Unamuno, translated by Robert Bly)

 

“The sun is shining

Children smiling in wonder

Circus grows the heart”

-Coco

 

“Goodbye to the beach

We’ve had sun and lots of fun

On to Nairobi!”

-Joe

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