Cirque Du Soliel rolls into town, with 122 tour members in January 2020 with a fantastic new Big Top and the widely acclaimed show Kurious - Cabinet of Curiosities. This steampunk masterpiece is said to be one of their most revered creations. KURIOS, written and directed by Michel Laprise is like a bucket full of stardust for the imagination. It stops time to swallow the audience into a fantasy world with endless possibilities. In a world full of wonder and crazy ideas stitched together with dreams and imagination you follow the Seeker (Scientist) down the rabbit hole (Portal in a lab) into a curious science-fantasy world. It features world-class gymnasts, acrobats, contortionists, hand-puppeteers, yo-yo wizards, clowns, actors and musicians with a catchy- jazz/swing house soundtrack.
I had the distinct pleasure to chat with a few of the artists of Kurious last week at The Rydges Hotel in South Brisbane. Fletcher Donohue is a talented AcroNet artist who plays several roles in Kurious. AcroNet is a blend of acrobatics, character work and choreographed movement, which sees the artists being caught and flipped in the air as they jump from a wide net. He began gymnastics at the age of 3 and then moved on to become a competitive trampolinist. Fun fact: He trained with fellow Brisbane performer Nathan Dennis at the Robertson Gymnastic Centre!
A chat with Fletcher Donohue Cirque Du Soliel - KURIOUS
Are you originally from Brisbane? Yes, well I trained here in Brisbane but lived on the Gold Coast. It's been four years since I joined Cirque, but I've been back every year.'
Have you been travelling for four years? I did two years in Vegas and two years on the road. I went to Portland Vancouver, Japan, Singapore and now, here in Australia but yeah I spent two years in Vegas.'
How was Vegas? It's cool, really cool actually. I really enjoyed it. If the touring life wasn't so enticing, I could have stayed there. It's much more liveable then people might think. There are 1,000,000 people living there, so of course, some of those people live in Suburbia and work in a bank and do this and that. There is something great about Vegas.'
Cirque Soleil is a massive achievement. How did you get into it and what would you say set you apart from the rest?
Yeah, if I'm completely honest, I'm not sure what set me aside from the rest. I'm very proud to work with Cirque du Soleil it really is an incredible company. The head coach that originally hired me, this is my second show My first Cirque Du Soleil show in Vegas was The Beatles love, he told me he hadn't hired anyone under 25 in years, I was 19 at the time. I'm not sure why they picked me but I'm very thankful. I met a talent scout at a championship in Bulgaria. I was representing Australia as part of the National Trampoline Team. I sent through some videos and they said I might hear back. Six months later I received an email to check if I was still interested, of course, was. Not long after that, they said "Hey you got a job, go grab your visa from Sydney. We will see you in two weeks."
What role do you play in Kurious? I'm an AcroNet artist. I'm an Acrobat and basically what we call 'house troop'. I do my act, which is the trampoline number in the show. Then we also do other bits and pieces and choreography. Lots of small character work throughout the show. I am an acrobat artist specialising in trampoline. I also, at times, get to cover for the lead character (Mr Microcosmos).
Acronet Image: www.cirquedusoleil.com/kurios Above a vast ocean, underwater creatures pirouette, bounce and rebound on a net that covers the entire stage. Their street-style performance is mixed with pure trampoline techniques.
We're working six days a week, so each show we're keeping fit. Then once a week we train an hour and a half on the AcroNet itself. Then I go to the gym three, four, five times a week depending on how my body is feeling, you always have to listen to your body. We also do lots of little training sessions throughout, cleaning up choreography, adding new people to the show or maybe making something bigger, better and brighter you know?
So, there's tweaking along the way? Yeah absolutely, every week when we train on the AcroNet, we are having a play and fixing things and also it's for us to upskill. Maybe we're doing a double summersault and we want to do a triple, eventually, we will put that into the show. So, we train and train because we're continually evolving ourselves, to keep it fresh for us, and also to keep it exciting for the audience.
What would you say is the most surprising thing about Circus life? I think how quickly you can bond with someone. Something I'm really enjoying about touring in general, be it in Australia, be it Asia or America, Is that there are so many great people in the world. When you are given a finer amount of time with someone, you can really grow a relationship. I've made some great friends on tour. Maybe it would take a year or two to get to know someone as well as you can get to know them in three or four months when you work with them six days a week and spend every moment with them.
It's very much an international cast isn't it?
Absolutely, there are about 22 nationalities; a couple of Aussie's, a couple of Americans and some that don't speak English at all.
Oh no, we are being wrapped up! Lastly, can you tell us about the story of KURIOUS?
KURIOUS, the full name of Kurious Cabinet of Curiosities, It follows the story of the seeker, as he is trying to get up through a portal in his laboratory into a world unknown. What ends up happening is the world comes to him. And so he along with the characters that show him the way, discover new exciting things that people thought were impossible.
Well it sounds fantastic and I can not wait to see it, thank you so much for your time!
I, for one, can not wait to see KURIOUS, it sounds like a much-needed injection of positivity and a feast for the imagination. Cirque De Soleil delivers world-class shows that display athleticism and creativity at it's highest standard. Tickets are available via cirquedusoleil.com/Kurios or by phone at 1800 036 685.