Sunday, 25 November 2012

1 show... 2 quick acts for your entertainment...

Welcome to my office

Replacing the net at Bintan - Summer 2012
At the practice bar, next to the main rig.

Backstage. This was one of our indoor circus shows. Raiding the costume cupboard was fun!
Not strictly a circus show.... more a celebration for the Olympics, but it involved a spectacle at the pool, so it's in.

The net! Getting ready for a fly demo.

My middle finger strapped with a golf tee after I dislocated it in the middle of a  fly show. OUCH
 (Yes, I finished the fly show)

Temptations Show - Agung doing my hair
Up there...
...just putting a catchtrap up
Show promo stunt - mannequins in the boutique

At the rig

Sunday, 6 May 2012

I didn’t think I was actually running away with the circus...

Let’s get us up to date… In 2010 I decided to quit the sensible job which was eating all my hours and energy to go on some epic adventure. I had saved a chunk of money and spent it all on plane tickets and stuff that travel blogs said I should get (including a mossie net that took up most of my case and came out twice in a year. Don’t bother).

In South Africa I got myself involved with ‘Lunchbox Theatre’, a kids acting group in Plettenburg bay. I hitch-hiked into town each Monday on my day off from working at Monkeyland Sanctuary and spent a couple of hours with Stuart and his class. Stuart also took me along to one of his community theatre performances at a local school as part of their environmental awareness programme. There were huge paper mache whales involved.  I love it when kids get inspired through performance. It reminds me how much power theatre really has.

 Lunchbox Theatre performing, October 2010

In Cape Town I went to a beautiful bar called Bombay Bicycle Club which gave me a love of swings. This will come back into play soon, you wait and see. Cape Town was also where I met Sally. She’s a ukulele. She’s joined me on my epic adventure from this point on.
After that I bumbled about in Thailand for a while I caught a train to Champhon and a ferry to Koh Tao with a lass I’d met in a bar the night before. I met a guardian angel called Ross, the acupuncturist, on the train. He turned out to be a saviour when I couldn’t find any accommodation on the island having not booked ahead at all, and whilst crashing at his swanky bungalow for my first night, we made a pact that if I tried diving with him the next day, he’d come try the flying trapeze with me the day after. Legend.

Ross and me about to make our first ever catches.

So just days later I’m staying in Koh Tao Backpackers which just happens to be right opposite the trapeze rig. I make my first ‘catch’ on the first day. Knee-hang! A few days later and I’m a couple more catches down and loving it. Ross carries on diving, I carry on trapezing and we meet up for cocktails with the trapeze crew each night. I accidently mis-book my flights on to Hong Kong and don’t leave for a further 4 days. It’s not the end of the world. I’m in paradise, after all.

In Hong Kong I meet my friend Naomi. We hang out with her fellow performing, singing, dancing friends before we head over for a couple of days at Ciaran’s place. Ciaran is a professional clown with a flat that’s a costume cupboard/prop room with a spot for a bed and a tv. Ciaran’s not there at the moment. Bizarrely he’s in Thailand though we never managed to catch up there. He’s wonderful and gives me the run of his pad and in return I give his cat Eric lots of attention as daddy’s away. I spend some time shopping for vintage dresses which is my favourite thing to do in Hong Kong, along with taking pictures of bicycles, and spend the rest of my time contemplating my next move on Ciaran’s roof, stroking Eric, looking up at a half built aerial rig that he just happens to have on top of his pad. I guess if you hang around with circussy folk long enough, it just all starts to make sense.

Eric at Ciaran’s rig *meow*

So here’s my dilemma. I have tickets to Australia leaving in less than a week, but my heart says go back to Thailand. I follow my gut and book a ticket back to Thailand, from Macau in order to swing by and catch catch Cirque Du Soleil’s show; Zaia at the Venetian with Naomi.
In Thailand I check in to a room for a month at a reduced rate. I arrive at the trapeze, excited to surprise everyone. Over the following 3 months, I start to help on board and learn a whole plethora of tricks. I have a ball. I’m learning tricks and learning how to work the trapeze at the same time. I flyer on the beach for a local restaurant and they give me free food. I believe you call this; living the dream.

Trapezing in Koh Tao

Eventually, when a boat took me off the island in April 11, crying all the way, I made my way to BKK airport and caught a plane to Melbourne. I hung out for a taster silks session with the Womens Circus Group and caught an end of term show at Nica.

After heading inland to see family friends who just happen to be ex-teachers at Flying Fruit Fly Circus in Wodonga (and of course we drop in for a quick hello), I head over to see my trapeze buddy in Wollongong, NSW. On getting chatty with some guy from General Pants store, he told me about this girl he knew in the local circus and that they might have a flying trapeze there. I’d been there less than a day and I was getting circus links. Something about this felt right. I liked the town. It was small and my brain, now used to an island lifestyle was feeling comfortable with this littler town. I’d been there one sleep and I replied to an ad on gumtree for a cheap room just round the corner from Katy’s place and a playpark where we could use the monkey bars to pretend we were still on a flying trapeze in Koh Tao. The room I’d found was nice but how would the circus be? Well I went the next day. They didn’t have a flying trap but the boss needed help in the office and I needed a job. Could I be working in the circus? Yesss! Plus I’d have access to other equipment and could potentially learn new skills there and nip into Sydney, just an hour or two by train, to Sydney Trapeze School (‘STS’) when I felt the urge to fly. I took it. Wollongong became my home for 3 months. I even performed a Burlesque number here a couple of times. Eventually I met Rodleigh Stevens, the phenominal trapeze instructor I was actually heading towards when I stopped at Wollongong. I didn’t get the chance to take a lesson with him. He struck me as a tough man to please, inspirational and devoted. I liked him.

When you work on a circus, sometimes your desk is actually a 
converted chest of drawers on a double decker bus

Get your stilts out

*Kitty Compulsive* performing Burlesque in Wollongong
(Picture by Jane Davis)

My tours of New Zealand and USA passed without so much involvement in circus. I met up with Fliss in NZ and we passed through Christchurch without really knowing where Circo Arts would have been. I’d met so many people in my time in Wollongong that had either been there or were on their way there that it seemed right to see what was left of it, but being respectful of what people there have lost, I didn’t push my investigations too much and missed this one. In the USA I longboarded and sprained an ankle for my arrival in Vegas, where I also had heat rash that sent my dreams of finding some rich old man and kissing his chips right out the window. I couldn’t even limp to the casino Circus Circus despite staying just a little way up on the strip.

Getting home was a culture shock. Sally kept me sane as she had done through most of the journey to be fair. Less than 10 days in the job I’d applied for all those months ago when I first arrived in Australia came up. Did I want to go and work at a holiday resort with a flying trapeze rig? Days would consist of kids and adult lessons. We’d do 2 shows a week; one indoor and one outdoor? Are you kidding? I’ve JUST got back to England and NOW you contact me? Yes, of course I will. Obviously. I had a phone interview. Signed a contract on the Friday, booked my ticket on Saturday and flew on Wednesday. I worked at the resort for 4 months, until they closed. Proud to be part of an awesome team and some amazing circus shows, both indoor and on the outdoor flying trapeze.

Picture by Natalie Hempel


Circussy things I did: Flying Trapeze Adventures (Thailand), pondered life at Alfie NoName’s half built rig (HK), caught Zaia - Cirque Du Soleil (Macau), Went to 2 classes with Womens Circus (Melbourne VIC), Caught a show at Nica (Melbourne VIC), Went to Flying Fruit Fly Circus School (Wadonga NSW),  Worked at Circus Monoxide (Wollongong NSW), Flew at STS (Sydney, NSW), met Rodeigh Stevens (Gold Coast NSW)

Circussy things I wanted to do but didn’t for one reason or another: chased a lead in for ZipZap Circus School (Cape Town, S.Africa), seeing the show Madame Zingaras (Cape Town, S.Africa – although it had toured to Joburg the entire time I was in Cape Town), checking out Circus Circus Casino (Las Vegas)

When my old island resort closed down, I was lucky enough to be offered a job in Indonesia for the same chain. Luckily enough. It's where I am as I write this. Rock on.

Lunasea (2.0) Cast. Pic by Natalie Hempel

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Travel Vaccines Ahoy

The hypnotherapy worked! Well done me! Yes I used to have a phobia of needles, now I don't. Which is great for the plentiful array of travel vaccines that they have really enjoyed sticking in my arms. I was hardcore, I'll have you know. I didn't cry once. Look... look at my plasters...

But really, how many can you need? Well... in 5 injections I'm now covered for Hep A, Hep B, Diptheria, Tetanus, Polio, Typhoid and against some other random and unpleasant sounding illnesses that I never heard about until now. I'm riddled with tiny amounts of the lot so my immune system can do some very clever shit and make me all strong and that. I'm basically iron man... well kind of... I might still get run over by a bus.

Friday, 27 August 2010

oh god what have I done

I’m pretty damn happy. I have the best housemates, the most fantastic old Victorian flat in central London from which I can faintly hear Big Ben chiming from my bed. My friends are all fantastically awesome…. so what did I do? Ah yes, I sacked it all off and bought a plane ticket around the world, took my pet lizard to my friend’s house, bought a rucksack (and a mosquito net, a travel towel, a ridiculous supply of contact lenses and a travel hula hoop) and a plane ticket to go to 4 continents on my own. What the hell was I thinking? No really!

Some days I wake up and think that this was a brilliant idea. Tomorrow I’m going to wake up without Dita, my lizard, staring at me from the end of my bed. I’m going to feel like an absolute idiot.

Still, I’m about to embark on the most exciting adventure I could ever imagine. I’m going to blog about the good, the bad and the downright dodgy. I can’t wait!

Firstly I’m off to Croatia for 10 days, then Joburg!

Top tip for today: Don’t take your clock off the wall until the day you move out. For someone as terrible at timing as I, I had no idea how much I looked at that thing.