Hello circus fans!
You may have noticed that, quite without warning, a picture of a bare-footed, juggling girl in a blue dress has appeared in the header of this blog. You may have also noticed that she features in juggling-related films and other such footage displaying nonsensical fun in London town.
'Who on Earth is she?!' you may be crying in confusion.
Well, she is actually me! So here's a little introduction to me and why I've appeared on this blog...
My name is Sarah and I am a legal publisher. That's what I do. But this I do from Monday to Friday between the hours of approximately 8.30-5.30pm only. The rest of the time I juggle, hang from a hoop suspended from the ceiling and make up ridiculously far-fetched puns.
For more about me check out my blog here: www.thesilvercircle.com
James and I have decided that we want to put our nonsensical talents to at least some good use and document the experience into the bargain. Underneath the formal, financial exterior London is fascinating city filled with amazing people and opportunities to be creative. Sometimes people fail to see the humour in it all, so we've decided to try to raise a smile (or at least an eyebrow) in weird and wonderful ways.
Look out for more performance fun and circus games coming this way very soon!
Saturday, 29 October 2011
So last weekend me and a few friends decided to perform in London, however our idea wasn't the most normal! I hope you enjoy the little video blog post of our adventure into food performance!
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Juggling in London
Great weekend juggling in London parks
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Juggling in London
Great weekend juggling in London parks
Posted by James at 03:44
Thursday, 27 October 2011
So there we were walking down the Thames looking for a barge. We hadn't put much effort into finding out where exactly we were going, how hard can it be to find a barge? Surely when you find water it must be obvious?
This was completely not the case at all due to some building site which appeared to have decided to block all access to the place. We followed signs around dark back streets, still not holding much hope for actually finding our destination, and when we were directed through what looked very much like the building site car park we were close to giving up.
Eventually however we stumbled into the right place, with no help from the girl who when asked for directions responded. 'it could be either that way or that way', great so that pretty much established the boat was probably on in the water somewhere.
We walked down into the cabin (I have no idea if that is the right word, its just a word I know that relates to boats). The place to our surprise was full, always a great sign if the place your going is basically impossible to get to yet is still full. The inside of the boat reminded me very much of a working men’s club, a bar down one side, tables in the middle and a little stage at the end sporting a curtain which unless the place was a Tardis must have been hiding a tiny backstage area.
We were here to watch a performance, some sort of singing dancing showy sort of performance (we had no idea what it was). The show came in two acts, however it was apparent from the program that the two acts were actually completely different shows with a completely separate cast. We managed to grab ourselves a table right next to the stage, a phenomenon which tends to be due to people not wanting to be picked on by the performers, however as our group consisted of all performers, good luck to anybody who tried to include us, they'd never get us off the stage again.
A compère came onto the stage, it wasn't clear if he owned the place but it certainly looked like he did this all the time, and knew a great deal of people in the crowd, he did a great job of bringing the atmosphere to a fun cosy level, perfect for the venue. After a quick push on the raffle tickets for sale the first act was introduced.
The performers were from an improvisational comedy/performance troupe in London called Geoids, I had never heard of them personally, but I've never heard of most things. I had seen these kind of groups before and am aware that there is usually quite a few uncomfortable claps and cheers from the audience, while they secretly attempt to stop their ears bleeding. The mixed group came to the stage and started their opening number, it was clear from the outset that this group was not like any I had seen before. Each member of the group during that act harmonised, performed solos and engaged with the audience through facial expressions, and we loved it. The act went through without a hitch or bum note and the audience really responded well.
Then dinner arrived, we were really warming to this place.
Then I won the raffle, at this point we are totally sold.
Bring on Act 2!
Wow, Act 2 was incredible, there was nothing amateur about it. This time made up primarily of foxy females complemented by two dashing gents. The songs seemed to concentrate on the facts of life, this running theme of modern day attitudes to relationships made for a tight show, and their personalities had us in stitches. You know if its a good show if the following day you are still singing the songs from the night, and for some reason I appear to have an infatuation with a guy called Taylor from Starbucks!?
It really shows just how high the standard is in London if a show of this calibre can be thought of as amateur. We all loved the show, and the two people I was with are now looking to join them. Definitely worth checking out if you get the chance.
No doubt I will be reviewing their next performance (not just because I got free tickets).
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Flying Karamazov Brothers Show Review
Posted by James at 12:26
Saturday, 22 October 2011
Tuesday, 18 October 2011
I guess I should get this out the way, so here goes....
So my name is James, I am 26 and I'm an alcoholic, NO NO NO I am a juggler (however being an alcoholic might just be cheaper)! I was brought up in a tiny lil place in the outskirts of Lincoln in the UK (Don't worry if you are not from the UK and don't know this place, most people in the UK don't either). My childhood was incredibly standard, and by that I really mean that I, like most kids, just spent all my time running about, falling over and kicking and throwing stuff. I wasn't great at the kicking part, I really was no football player as all the kids would tell during ruthless team picking practices kids employ.
But I was good at catching! I loved throwing a ball outside. My dad would throw it up as high as possible and my brother and I would attempt to hurl ourselves around the garden to try and catch the thing as it came back from near orbit. Unlike some places in the world, being good at catching is a completely useless skill in the UK, there is cricket but none of my friends cared much for that, so I had learnt my first useless skill, the first in a long line that would go on to shape my life.
When I was around 7 years old something unheard of happened. A circus club started in my village. What? This was a place which basically consisted of a hand full of houses, a couple of pubs (right next to each other, makes no sense) and a good old days lethal play park (broke my arm and loved it). I attended with my brother for the few weeks that the club ran, I didn't know it then, but those few weeks completely changed my life. I am very sure I would be totally unrecognisable today without this, and I am eternally grateful to the chap who ran it (I think his name was Dave Glover, however I'm not sure).
So the club stopped but I didn't, I carried on, learnt 3 balls then 4 and then stopped? I don't have much of a clue why but it was probably because I had only ever seen people juggle 4 before, besides I only had 4 balls. It wasn't until I was 16 when I got my first job that I decided to buy the company Firetoys one prop at a time, a quest I have since spread to Oddballs also :D
I am not a professional street performer, I am nowhere near good enough for such a title, no, I have another day job. I currently work at The Creative Assembly as a programmer, and just spend every other hour I'm not there buried in my circus world! I Now live in London and am loving the crazy amounts of live entertainment here. I am finding myself spoilt for choice for a juggling club to join and am currently sampling them all (blog posts will be coming).
Playing With Fire from Dave Hoe on Vimeo.
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Why are you doing that?
Thursday, 13 October 2011
When looking to eat out in London you really are spoilt for choice. In fact when the occasion arises I really have no idea where to favour and am yet to go to the same place twice (McDonald’s doesn't count).
HANG ON A SECOND! THIS A JUGGLING BLOG!
Never fear I'm not going to turn into one of those bloggers who blogs what they have just eaten for tea, this is relevant, I promise!
Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, eating out. I recently had the excuse to eat out. My girlfriend (a juggler, you may have spied her in some earlier posts) had a birthday, so it was up to me to find a place. I find it quite funny that we can treat going to another room to eat as a night out, we are easily amused, but I wanted to do something a bit different. Being a special occasion I decided, sod it I'll look for something a bit fancy and I had heard of the perfect place for a circus obsessed couple...
Yep, there is a restaurant actually called Circus, decision made, table booked. I first saw this place on the UK Apprentice TV program where it was used as the venue for one of the 'treats'. Finding the place online was simple, a quick google search for 'London juggling' and you're away, finding the physical place however is a whole different story! It is basically just a black door, no window to be seen and forget a sign. So obviously we walked straight past, got to the end of the road, and resorted to asking a waitress at one of the more traditionally set up establishments. This must happen a lot as she gave us very clear directions to this mystery door. Eventually we found ourselves in a mirrored corridor with the word 'circus' lit up in multiple colours, a very odd feeling, such a transition from the outside world.
The main room was totally dominated by a colossal table which was occupied by business men. We were directed to our much cosier table. On to ordering, what do you eat at a Circus restaurant? Well apparently its a sort of tapas affair, the dishes are brought out whenever they are ready and you just share them. We ordered some watermelon salad, sounds strange but was a revelation, a few other bits like shrimp and pushed the boat out with a steak. The food was amazing, loved it, but I'm not going to review the food much as who am I to talk, I love McDonald's :)
After we had been sat at our table for a small while the lights in the restaurant went off, the window to the kitchen area had shutters moving over it, very Circusy music came on and everybody went quiet. Two twins walked onto the large table, which doubles as the stage for the night. Yep this place is literally a Circus! The two girls performed a very energetic ariel hoop act just feet above the diners, we loved it. Then it was back to dinner. During our time there we managed to see 5 performances. Each different and fantastic! I managed to find one of the guys online and have embedded it below, he was pretty funny and managed to build a good sense of fun with the crowd.
In short we loved the place, it was like another little world and the food was great. I think it would have been a bit better if it lost the corporate feel given by the amount of business men that were in there (looking a bit seedy to be honest), but I guess after being on the Apprentice you can't really help that. We would totally go again, but it is definitely a treat as it cost me £115!!!
My lovely girlfriend as if by some strange coincidence blogged about the restaurant also! She did a much better job than I in remembering the night. If you are interested in more details of the food and the other acts we saw its defiantly worth a look!
Posted by James at 14:55
Sunday, 9 October 2011
Part 1 here
part 2 here
Rehearsal day seamed to creep up incredibly fast. I walked up to the building that now already terrified me. I went straight up to a rehearsal room on the top floor. The room was like nothing I had ever seen before. It was a large expanse of space, mirrors dominated an entire side of the wall. Light flooded in from the large windows. The room was filled with children in brightly coloured T-shirts, I would later find out that each different colour would denote a different team that would rotate performances each night. At this point I was feeling a bit sick not really knowing what to do in such an alien situation. I was quickly pounced on by the director who greeted me in a friendly tone and a confidence which filled the room, I was told to go to the rehearsal room, an instruction I accepted, and I got out of the room as quickly as possible not knowing where I would find such a room. I decided that it was likely that the receptionist would know, and she was lovely.
After getting lost around the corridors in the crucible I made my way into the rehearsal room. It was similar to the last room in that it was dominated by mirrors. The habitants this time however were not children. The room had 4 or 5 twentysomething all bending into impossible positions and practising some dance moves. It was instantly noticeable that they were not strangers to one another. They all turned and eyed me, instantly trying to figure me out. The choreographer came over to me who I was.
'I'm Stakey' this was my name in the pantomime and I thought it was my best answer
'Oh, hello, we are just going to go through a few dances and then we will get to the ones you are in.'
'OK no problem' dance? My dances? At no point had I been told that I may have to dance. Now I do have some sort of rhythm but I haven't ever done it for the amusement of the public. I waited on the sidelines and awkwardly played with my mobile phone, which was my defence mechanism in times where I have no idea what to do. In front of me were extravagant dancers and inside jokes being shouted about to the sound of the popular music the dances were performed to, I had no idea where to put my eyes at this point so the safest place would be my phone.
Eventually the dancing came to a close and the dancers came over to me to investigate the new presence that had entered the room.
'Hello, who are you?' one of them instantly inquired with not a hint of nervous demeaned.
'Hi, I'm James'
'Are you a dancer?' another quickly interjected.
'Oh no I really don't dance'
'no not an actor'
'not a chance, I am a juggler'
I sensed an instant change in the tone in the room. Two of them looked instantly intrigued by the idea that the new person standing in front of them was a strange person that may be quite entertaining. The other two, the only girls in the room defaulted back to the the all too familiar approach of judgemental uninterested.
'I can juggle two balls!' one of the guys proclaimed.'
I cant tell you how many times I get this reaction. It appears that everybody on the planet claims they can juggle two balls. However, its something of a mystery that 99 percent of the time what they can actually do is throw one over and pass the other to the other hand, which is not juggling two. I have no idea how everyone learns this method of juggling two balls? Does it come natural to people? This is the only explanation I can come up with, aside from some secret juggling teacher that implants this method into every child's brain early on? Conspiracy?
It came my time to dance, I stood up and some very swashbuckling sounding music came on. The choreographer put me into place with the other dancers who all appeared to already know the dance.
'The start is a simple step ball change' she said to me.
I must have missed this lesson at school, because that statement meant absolutely nothing to me.
'Errrrm, sorry, what does that, erm, mean?' I admitted, to the instant dismay of the choreographer.
To this day I cant wouldn’t be able to convey what this means. My best description would be you bob from one foot to the other. The dance wasn't a hard one, but to me there was a lot to learn and there was 2 others that I was apparently going to be in that I would have to learn in this week ready to perform. There was no mention of juggling at all?
So this was how I now spent my days, I would basically skip university to enter this strange new routine of vocal warm-ups, dancing calls and rubbing shoulders with professional actors. I think it takes a true outsider to the industry to appreciate the differences from what most would call normal. I was totally loving my new life, and any apprehension I had prior was starting to fade away. Although my studies no doubt were taking a battering from my notable absence, for the first time ever I was living in the moment, not planning for the future and life was great.
During the two week rehearsal my favourite moments came in the area which in most companies would be called the kitchen, but in this world is referred to as the 'Green Room'. I had heard this term used quite a bit on the odd show on TV, I have no idea why its called a green room, but I remember laughing to myself when I found that it was actually a green room (green is not a nice colour for any room). I would sit with my fellow cast, the people who strangers just a few weeks ago, now like a very strange family, all in it together with undercurrents of disagreement never too far from the surface. Hearing the stories of their careers so far were absolutely fascinating, we had lead such different lives up to that point, they told tales of the famous, of shows and grand performance triumphs. Even though I had nothing to add in these conversations I really enjoyed keeping quiet and soaking up the anecdotes.
At the 2 week rehearsal mark I still had never actually seen the theatre I was going to be performing in. I had been in the building, in all the rehearsal rooms, but never in the auditorium. I didn't even know where it was in the maze of corridors. However all that was about to change when we moved to do our full stage dress rehearsal with tech (basically with all the actual stage stuff like flying wires!)
To be continued very soon...
Posted by James at 15:43
Friday, 7 October 2011
One rainy day in London when I was exploring (getting lost) around London I stumbled upon a building covered in images of jugglers. Although I think this is how ever building should look usually the rest of the population don't agree, so what was going on here?
Walking closer to the building I saw it was the Vaudeville Theatre, and that's only due to the fact that this was stated over the entrance (I really don't know London). The show being advertised was for The Flying Karamazov Brothers. At this point I have to say that I hadn't heard of them before, but they were jugglers, I'm a juggler, so guessed I'd like it and luckily I had walked in on the last day of the show run.
Ticket purchased I walked into a very quaint Theatre, traditional and a bit rough round the edges. Alone I took my seat, I ignored the fact that it was mainly families and I think they eyed me with judging looks.
The show was basically a passing show, however was not just a demonstration of juggling prowess. Instead the focus was mainly on fusing music with juggling, using the beat of the juggling patterns to interesting effect. I had seen some of this kind of juggling done before around the internet but never performed with such charisma. In fact all four of them engaged with the audience, gaining cheers and participation, the laughs following in all the right places. There was a running theme related to danger props which I felt was a little anticlimactic, though this may be related to the fact it was not created with juggler audiences in mind.
The show must have been around an hour in length and there was no drops! Unfortunately this isn't a very good time to write a show review as the show is now over, but if you get the chance to see these guys along their massive tour list, I would say it is well worth it. Their stage presence and command over the crowd set them apart as a great act.
Posted by James at 05:29
Wednesday, 5 October 2011
Thank you for attending the auditions here at Covent Garden.
I am pleased to inform you that you have been granted a 3 month temporary, trail licence to perform in the North Hall.
You will need to provide proof of 5 million pounds PLI and you will need to fill in a risk assessment form, I will also need a passport photo of you and also proof of ID.
Please let me know when you can come in and fill in forms.
Please do give me a call if you have any further questions.
Wayyyyyyyyy they let me in! A trial but I am in none the less and at that point my heart pretty much exploded with a mixture of excitement and nerves! Next stop Covent Garden!
Having received some positive feedback about documenting the process I am thinking of making a video diary on the day I go so you will be able to see how the whole system works, I have no idea myself at this point but can't wait to get learning from the best there is! Please leave a little comment if you would be interested in this video along with any suggestions of what I should make sure I cover. I am going to go to bed now and probably not sleep all night :D
Posted by James at 15:44
Monday, 3 October 2011
I had a fantastic weekend, and it was blooooming scorching so everybody and their dog (lots and lots of dogs) were littered around the parks of London, and we were no exception (but we don't own a dog):
Saturday - Regent Park
Sunday - Clapham Common
BBQ to finish the day
A perfect weekend, thanks guys
Posted by James at 15:42
Saturday, 1 October 2011
So there I, was stood in a room dominated by mirrors. In front of me a table, behind which were the terrifying people in charge. To the side of me my bag of tricks, I pulled out 3 balls. At this point I realised I had no idea what I was expected to do so just started juggling and talking to them through it. I had literally never been in this situation before it was surreal, to be honest I had only ever seen rooms like this on documentaries. I moved on to 4 and 5 ball juggling as most juggle muggles don't get to see this often so tend to be happy with just the standard pattern. I followed this with a bit of club jugging and told them that I can do the same with torches. At this point they started asking about the torches, so I brought one out of my bag and showed them, also giving them a club to compare it to.
Eventually their interest waned, they smiled and I was happy with what I had done. Then they handed me a piece of paper full of words, a page of lines.
'just have a look over this outside, then we will call you back in and go through it.' he said as if it was nothing.
'OK thanks.' I replied but what I really wanted to say was ahhhhhhhhhhh!
I was now even more nervous. It wasn't that my acting was bad, I'm sure that I could have done this scene and given a fun performance. The problem was however that I can't read aloud.
I went outside and tried my best to try and commit it to memory. However, the more worked up I got the more I just couldn't concentrate. Then the other applicants started going in and doing their rendition and came out having nailed it. I was out of my depth and there was no way I was going to be able to do this. I am not an actor, I hadn't acted since school, if I went in there and fell all over the words they may even think I was stupid. Its not that I cant read, far from it I love reading, I can think of nothing better than reading a good book. Its just that reading aloud has just never been something I could do. I get flustered and start to get my words wrong, this however just makes it worse, I start to get stressed. Through school this was a constant embarrassment, an embarrassment I hadn't let follow me into adulthood, becoming very good at hiding my shortcoming. However, this time there was no escaping, I didn't know what I was going to do. I started becoming more and more nervous, there was no way that I was going to even get through the first line, even reading it like some sort of juggling robot. There was no way I was going to be able to do it with enthusiastic acting.
No, this was it.
I walked into the room calmly, and apologised. I gave them some excuse that I would be too nervous to talk and that just juggling is fine. Of course this was a lie, but I was never going to get through this part of the process so in effect I decided myself to say no. Slightly shocked, they accepted my apology and I left the building feeling very frustrated that my short coming was haunting me.
I put the whole experience behind me and carried on with my life, this being my final year at university I was now having to do a great amount of work, far more than I had ever had before and it was already starting to get on top of me.
'Hi.' instantly recognising the voice as the circus school manager.
'I am just calling to say that you have the job in the pantomime.'
Part 3 here.
Posted by James at 02:21