Friday, 27 June 2014

Chapter 20: Circus Kathmandu

Tyger Tyger, burning bright, 
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

William Blake, from Songs of Innocence and Experience

Henri Rousseau's Tiger in a Tropical Storm
at The National Gallery

Tigers.  Magnificent, terrible, ferocious.  Shere Khan.  Sheer Pride.  Growing up, one of my sisters had a poster of a regal tiger in her bedroom with the caption: 

"It's hard to be humble, when you're as great as I am."  

Circus empowers.  Circus is a great space for tigers.  I am reminded of this yesterday when my daughter brings home a reading book from school.  It's about a little girl called Lucy, a redhead (and redheads in circus get their own chapter, to follow) who discovers a magical fairground horse that will take her wherever she wishes to go.

Nepal is across the border from India, and home to the first ever Nepali contemporary circus, Circus Kathmandu.  European circus professionals have been working with children and young adults rescued from savage exploitation in old-style circuses, to create a company that can now explore their own story through the language of circus, on their own terms.   You can get the low-down from the article Circus Kathmandu and the Fight Against Human Trafficking that appears in The Circus Diaries blog.    

I was interested, and not surprised, to read that one of the key players in helping that voice find expression is Ali Williams, creative director of NoFit State, who took a sabbatical to go out to Nepal and work with the troupe. It brings me back to this idea of circus providing a space, a safety net, for any Bird with a Broken Wing (see Chapter 9: NoFit State to Entertain) to recover their strength.  As one of their artists explains on the Circus Kathmandu Home Page:

"I feel proud now.  I can stand up on my own legs and feed myself.  I've started earning and I can look after my family."

Circus Kathmandu arrives at Glastonbury this weekend.   Are you going?  Are you there yet?!  If so, you can see their show "Swagatam", meaning welcome, at the Big Top tent today and tomorrow afternoon.   And lucky you.  I'm still waiting for my fairground ride to spirit me away.

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