India 2019 – Kudle Beach Bootcamp

January 31, 2019

On a fateful day in India, January the 12th of 2019, the sun blasted down upon the dry, dusty earth, heating the steel train tracks and the speeding compartments above to a boil – an appropriate temperature to get simmering the eager ingredients of the Indian PWB tour which had only just been thrown in the pot together. Those delectable ingredients are: Dan our fearless leader and double diabolo monkey, Erika the high-flying acrobatic chicken with a side of salad, Matt the dog-whispering devil stick shaman, Gina the indomitable clown and tooting trumpeter, Chaka the Chief and triple staff extraordinaire, Iain the dexterous juggling primate and our favorite Ma’ away from home, Ashlee the hero-princess of poi and bringer of infinite smiles, and myself, Logan, resident giant juggling bird of paradise and hoarder of all ice creams. So with all the zeal of a newly formed group of adventurers we hastened toward our first home in India, Kudle Beach in the village of Gokarna. What a fantastic home it was! Our passion for the discovery of the local culture and cuisine was noticeable immediately and equal only to the determination to develop friendships and share our myriad circus skills with one another.

We worked hard every day to become as mentally and physically fit as required in order to tackle the strenuous work ahead of us. The mornings brought yoga classes, group games, flexibility and strength training sessions. Afternoons floated by, filled with rehearsals under the tropical sun and a dutiful efficiency. Evenings rewarded our efforts with the exploration of tasty delicacies, westerly ocean sunsets, and the pursuit of our diverse whimsies. Adjusting quickly to the climate and setting, we found our individual routines, whether they be an early morning swim, well-timed juggle breaks, or an epic shower after a long day’s work! Focus fell naturally on the development of the group dynamic; intentions were set to develop workshop skills and the upcoming debut of our first show.

Amid the increasing strain of show development, two unsung heroes reared their faces to assist us on our tireless journey. The first is known as Dave Ford, present entertainer, improv player and past PWB veteran from years ago. With his appearance came a plethora of perfectly timed acting, improvisation, character, and show development workshops. His engaging presence and committed enthusiasm in assisting our cause was palpable, tipping the scales of success in our favour as we watched our skills and capacity for expression grow exponentially. The second hero that crossed our path is called Shubhra Gupta, also know as our wonderful new friend and ultimate guide to all things India. Her presence helped immensely with our easing into the foreign culture in innumerable ways. The universe around us then came together in one of those serendipitous and rare ways, bringing the revelation that she could gift the fruits of her career – costume design – to our cause, that we might further suspend the disbelief of the already infinitely imaginative children that awaited the spectacle of our upcoming circus.

And so with the injection of such wonderful help, our fiercely determined adventurers played, explored and worked until they found theirselves losing their humanity and becoming the wild creatures of their skillfully crafted jungle story. This fantastic parable would have our heroes adventure deep into the savage jungle with the help of its many strange inhabitants to seek a circusy treasure guarded by a terrible monster. With its unexpected defeat would come the jubilant celebration of all things good and playful! Finally the last day of bootcamp came and with it the busking and frantic flyering about town to advertise the beach-born opening of our terrific jungle tale. Despite the sand, wind, and a last minute injury leading to the subsequent, temporary loss of our infamous flying chicken, we boldly took the stage. With courage and a proclivity toward improvisation, we enraptured the imaginations of hundreds of lucky on-looking adventurers and brought them on our journey with us into the unknown jungle. We were destined inevitably to breach the veil of triumph in a cacophony of applause as the sun fell softly into the ocean like feather at the close of our final scene…and so the adventure had finally, truly begun.

Logan “Kaa!” Goethe

Advertisements

Kenya 2019 – 1st week in Nairobi Improvisation is the way to go!

January 27, 2019

When you get to Kenya, you quickly realise that things work a bit differently here. You need to have an open mind and the ability to adapt to unexpected situations.
One of our Partner Organisations: GRT, has been amazing at helping us out for our first week in Nairobi when things didn’t go as planned.
GRT, Group for Transcultural Relations, works with street families and especially street children in Nairobi. Their aim is to empower them, give them a better future and an alternative to the struggles that they are facing living in slums and on the streets. GRT promotes the rehabilitation and inclusion of these people, that in the attempt of escaping their situation often are victim to drug addiction, including inhaling solvents such as glue and jet fuel.

Chapter 1: Change of plan

  • Original Plan:
    Start with our first project on tour.
  • Problem:
    Our first partner doesn’t have the capacity for us as planned and we can’t go.
  • Solution:
    Rent a super nice AirBNB in Nairobi, message all the other Partner Organisations asking if they have work for us.
  • Success:
    Get a response from GRT, Group for Transcultural Relations, that we can come that week already and do some workshops with street families.

Chapter 2: First Workshop – First Pancake

  • Original Plan:
    Go to Mlango Kubwa to teach Streetfamilies. Play some games with them to raise the energy. Split them up into 3 groups that are going to rotate through the 3 different stations: hula hoop, juggling and parkour. Each for 20 minutes. Everyone has a workshop plan, and people will learn new things.
  • Problem:
    Teaching a hula hoop and a juggling workshop in the same fairly small space for the number of people that are in it does not work. Kit and people become a big mish-mash.
    Teaching people, that have a limited body awareness due to their drug addiction, parkour is difficult.
  • Solution:
    Just go with the flow!
    Let people just try out an play around with the hoops and the juggling balls. Start with really basic acrobatics like forward rolls and slowly step up the game.
  • Success:
    Everyone is happy to just try and play. The smiles and the happiness that get spread is contagious and the pride in the eyes of someone who has just learned a trick is golden!

    dscf2388

    James in his element: teaching Acrobatics

Chapter 3: Second Workshop – It’s going to be much smoother then the first one!

  • Original Plan:
    We will work with a smaller group of people and we expect that they are less dependent on drugs. We will have a community centre to teach in and we will be able to stick to our system of workshops.
  • Problem:
    The room that we were meant to teach in got taken over by another group and we have to work in a tiny room that can just about fit the 30 people sitting on chairs along the walls of the room. Definitely no way we can properly teach a workshop! There’s still quite a lot of glue around that makes the air really heavy. The participants are teenagers and hard to engage and to impress.
  • Solution:
    Improvise!
    Do little showcases of the different skills and props we have: partner-acro, poi, hoop, juggling, clowning. You can’t teach, so try and entertain!
    Get some people to try some easy acrobatics and juggling with us or each other whilst the rest of the group is watching.
  • Success:
    At least a good amount of the people are entertained and some even try out and learn new things. Some of them are super interested and want to learn more. Everyone get’s a taste of what they can learn when we come back in two weeks.
whatsapp image 2019-01-18 at 14.44.43-5

Success!

 

Chapter 4: This time our plan will definitely work!

  • Original Plan:
    There will be less people as lots of them will be playing football. We will share the football field with them. We will not have a rotating system but everyone is going to do hoop, juggling and acro for half an hour after a warm-up and games session.
  • Problem:
    Very tiny, very cute children from around the area that are supposed to be at school are getting drawn to us as Benjamin starts a little juggling show whilst we are waiting. More little children come and start mixing with the streetkids that we are actually here to be working with.
    There is no way we can share the football field as the players are really into their game. We move to the side street next to the football field. More tiny children from the area are coming and start to form a crowd around Benjamin. There is no way we feel we can separate the tiny children from the street families that we are actually meant to be working with.
whatsapp image 2019-01-18 at 18.45.28-2

Big hoop with a tiny child

  • Solution:
    Just go with the flow and improvise! We start getting hula hoops and acro mats out. It’s a crazy hustle bustle, more and more people join, we are on a public street…  But everyone can play and have a go. The girls of the team, Abi, Fer and I leave Hecor, James and Benjamin with the crowd. We go to a community centre to teach a small group of women, usually these women stand at the back during these sessions so taking them away from the group allows them to join in. It is a really nice and calm workshop with only 9 women and girls in a nice shady yard. We teach hula hoop and poi and everyone has a nice time. After about an hour, we rejoin the boys again and find them still surrounded by the children and tired out, but alive.
  • Success:
    Working with the small group of women was really valuable. Being female in Kenya and especially in the streets is not easy as mysogyny and harassment is common. So giving the women a space where they are not suppressed by men, where they can be free, and be themselves is important and empowering for them.
    Also having a big play session in the street worked out in the end as there was space for everyone.
    Again: Lots of fun and play and happy and proud smiles!
whatsapp image 2019-01-18 at 18.45.29-2

The Hoop around the arms together: Everybodys Favourite!

Conclusion:

It is great to have a plan but even more important to be able to adapt and to improvise.
Keep that in mind and you’ll be able to make the best out of any unexpected or tricky situation!

Working with the street families in Mlango Kubwa and at Pumani Social Hall was really special. Seeing the situation of the people there was not easy. Most of them are addicted to inhalants and the plastic bottle filled with glue or the piece of fabric dipped in jet fuel is a constant attribute of their appearance, even their personality. Often it doesn’t even leave their mouth and putting the bottle to the side is not easy for a lot of the people. What hit me the most was to see how young some of the children still are. You do see homeless people all across the world, in europe, in the so called ‘first world countries’. And you know that there are many, way too many children having to live on the streets and in slums in third world countries. But seeing it right in front of you makes it become harsh reality.
Nevertheless, once we started working with them, teaching, engaging and playing, I didn’t see people that have a hard life living on the street and being addicted to drugs. What I saw were people that were super happy to try out, play and learn. I saw people having fun, smiling and laughing. And I saw people that were incredibly welcoming, openhearted and happy to see us.

So even though nothing went as planned, we had a great and very rewarding experience and I am very much looking forward to go back to those places and the people we met there for another week of teaching, playing, learning and spreading smiles!

dscf2428

Smiles!!!


Sawa Sawa Sita

January 12, 2019

On all sides of the planet there were six talented souls who were destined for greatness. Never did they know that some day their lives would collide in the distant land of Kenya to achieve greatness. All raised learning their unique skill that would soon help them conquer the fabulous art of teaching circus arts.

One day they all arrived in a small place named Mombasa to combine their talents in what would soon become the worlds most powerful circus show while at the same time changing the lives of children and people who may only see what they do as super human. They will too evolve them into superheroes of their own. After day one, the heroes could see that they all held their own unique flare but were open to the opportunity to learn one another’s powers. Awakened early in the day to prepare for the production of the epic story soon to be told.

Abi, the captain of the mothership, wielding her endless knowledge of the forsaken land bringing dance and circus into a swirling tornado of beauty. Hector, master of laughter and creator of smiles. Fer, wielding circles of joy and manipulation of colorful designs. Elena, goddess of intergalactic meteor travel. Hanging on to the tips of shooting stars and directing them along unpredictable pathways. James, leading the way with walking staffs of life, omitting electricity from the tips of his fingers to battle off any unwanted energy. Bringer of zen. And Benjamin, the antigravity technician. Using his abilities to levitate items from their resting place. Together they are The Kenya performers without Borders.

After a long week together they have endured much heat fighting against them, trying to break them down but only making them stronger. Forces combined to fight through the dangerous passage knowing that the beneficial end is in sight. Occasionally they enter the worlds sea to wash off the callus that tries to hold them back. Creatures of the land find them quite intriguing and seem to continue to sneak into their lives to grab a small bite of what makes them so strong. Sometimes they succeed but not anymore. Now the squad has completed preparing for their journey and await their departure into the land that they will benefit with their presence.

IMG-1179.JPG