Viewing all threads involving Cedric Lackpot
A brief history of contemporary circus in the UK.
cryingoutloud.org have cobbled together a timeline of recent developments in contemporary circus in the UK. It's a diverting but fairly brief read, and I really wish it was festooned with links, but it ain't.
Nota bene: Navigation is a bit, um, idiosyncratic on Opera, and you are advised to use the orange up/down arrows to access otherwise hidden frames. Caveat emptor, especially Orinoco.
An interesting diversion indeed. It felt like it missed an awful lot out, but I can't quite put my finger on what was missing.
I'm right with you re missing components, although as a brief potted history it ticks pretty much all the obvious boxes.
But I'd love to see a crowdsourced version where people could pitch in whatever other influences sprang to mind. My first suggestion would be Paul Daniels, who I suspect you hold in as high regard as me for what he did for street and spesh in the late 80s/early 90s.
Paul Daniels inspired a lot of people to get started, but I'm not sure he had much of an impact on "new circus" as such - but undoubtedly he did an awful lot for spesh acts. As did Wheeltappers & Shunters Club, the various chatshows (Bob Monkhouse, Wogan etc)
Although if we're going as far as TV I think Secret Cabaret, while it was notionally a magic show with the occasional spesh act - it had a lot of raw energy in there and drew an enormous amount of influence from the alternative comedy circuit. It's a presentation style I very much associate with early 90s new circus.
For the 90's section I'd like to see The Catch get a mention (obviously!), Swamp, Serious Road Trip, Skylight, The Natural Theater COmpnay Cosmos, Spectral FX all did some really important stuff along the way (in their various ways)
If we were looking at the manipulation side of things then the growth of conventions particularly the BJC and EJC along with MBTM kits did more to raise the awareness of the possible than many of the more avant garde circus troupes. As did the proliferation of shops like Oddballs and Butterfingers.
It seems odd that they mention Circus Space and not Circomedia, or even No Fit State.
Interesting points re the manipulation side - certainly it was juggling conventions that made me interested in circus. Does (participating in) gymnastics feed into interest in circus in a similar way, I wonder?
Circomedia is mentioned, btw - it's one of those for which you have to spot and click the orange arrows Jay warned about (website navigation design by a clown...?). No Fit State got a mention also, though not their own section. For recent developments I'd be pleased to see some mention of Seachange arts and the wonderful Out There Festival in Great Yarmouth, and indeed equivalents elsewhere. Much to like about what is included though.
I recently read that Seachange in Great Yarmouth had been given to half a million pounds over three years since 2012 to promote circus and street arts in the area. Living almost 200 miles from this emerging circus centre I have been unaware of its existence. How is the circus scene in the area now, I haven't heard much yet, it sounds like it could be quite promising.
I live in Norfok, but not Great Yarmouth, and I'm afraid I don't know a great deal beyond having been very impressed by Out There. There's a terrific range of circus and street theatre artists there, including some fantastic performers. My impression was that a majority of the performers/companies were not based in the UK. That could be seen as a criticism, though possibly also as a reflection of where talent has previously been encouraged more? And also, I believe one of the things SeaChange are doing is bringing those artists to Great Yarmouth to work with others locally. There are notable UK-based (including world class) exceptions to that, such as the Gandinis, who were there this Sept. I heard from a friend (who's also on Juggling Edge) that this summer's show at the Hippodrome was the best circus show he'd ever seen anywhere (could that be SeaChange influenced/supported, as the link you posted hints at?). To my shame I missed it, but intend to catch the next one!
It's not over 'til the fat lady slims.
Nice quick change act from Olga & Vladimir Smirnov, currently with the Big Apple Circus:
Love the last change.
via May All Your Days Be Circus Days
I love quick change acts, the mechanics fascinate me.
Although I was a little disappointed that he only had one change
Me too. One of my favourite quick change tricks I've seen saw a guy hold a black bag with one hand, then he dipped his other hand into the bag & straight out again 3 times in a row changing from a red to blue to green glove. The hand that holds the bag is clearly visible so it is all done one handed. Best explanation I could come up with is a hook on the back of each glove (you only saw the palm side) which he hooked onto a loop inside the bag. However, I don't recall him dipping his hand very far into the bag & ripping off the top glove would risk upsetting the ones underneath. Sadly I don't have a name for the performer.
Having spent my journey home from work running ideas through my head about how I would approach this (and then ruling them all out as having limitations which would make them impossible to perform)
I've just done some interweb research. "David and Dania" appeared on one of the "got Talent" shows and they include a colour changing glove in one of their routines (although they use a top hat rather than a bag as you describe).
A little further research also revealed that they sell it for about $250, and it's pretty widely available.
I'm *way* beyond the prop buying phase of being a magician and would probably be massively disappointed if I splashed that much on one effect which I know wouldn't suit me in the slightest.
And who the fuck wears a tophat outside of a wedding party these days anyway?
I really don't get how the whole "magician in top hat and tails" thing is still as popular as it is. The whole point of it when the trend started was that the magician had ditched his wizards robes and was performing in the same clothes that his audience were wearing to the theater.
Audiences moved on with their atire, magicians apparently haven't. Makes me cross that does.
 Generally speaking most magicians go through the following learning phases in their "magical journey"
- Kids Magic Set
- Learn "free" tricks from TV/YouTube
- Buy individual tricks (throw lots of them away and never perform them - waste a huge amount of money in the process)
- Buy videos/DVDs
- Buy books
- Discover what branch of magic you like the most and throw yourself into it
It took me 20 years to get to just before the last step. At which point I read an essay which changed my view of magic, threw out all my material and never got around to building up a new act.
I just remembered there was a rocket-fast quick change act on The Slammer a few years back, they may well have been the same duo.
What was the essay? I'm interested how it could have affected you so much on a subject that you already knew a lot about.
OK - This is loooong. Sorry about that.
It was the introductory chapter to "The Art of Astonishment - Volume 1" which is a book by Paul Harris. The essay itself seems to be entitled "PH on Astonishment (Astonishment Is Our Natural State Of Mind)". I'm not sure it's ever been (legally) published online, but I'm sure you can probably track down a shoddy scan of the whole book if you look in the wrong places.
I won't point you at those places, as I paid £30 per volume for my treeware copy of the 3 volume series and they fill a very special place on my bookshelves. So yeah. It could be said that I paid £90 to end my magic performance career :)
I've not read the essay in question for about a decade, but from what I remember the basic premise was that when humans are born into this world, they have no expectations about how the world works, what's possible or impossible. Children are in a constant state of astonishment because they have hundreds of new or surprising things happen to them a day (this is why performing magic at childrens parties is largely an exercise in story telling and silliness rather than magic - for all they know you really can pull coins out of their ears)
As we grow up, we develop a view of how the world works, we put filters in place, and more and more of our experiences are familiar. We get very few moments of astonishment in our daily lives. If as a magician you can punch through all those filters and show the audience something which takes them back into that primal state of pure astonishment, it has a really powerful and personal impact on them. If you can leave them saying "what just happened?" rather than "how did he do that?" you elevate your performance from a mere puzzle to something more wonderful.
When you trigger that state in an audience, it can feel quite awkward for the performer if they're not expecting it. It's very tempting to fill a stunned silence with a joke or a quip and trample all over the moment taking the "special" away from your audience - but if you *don't* and you let the audience sit in that special moment for a while, it amplifies the astonishment and that's something really quite special for both the spectator and the magician.
If you want to see someone experiencing a rare moment of astonishment, watch Tellers face in this clip from "Fool Us" immediately after the reveal http://youtu.be/CRpz0zuAGVs He's stunned. I seem to remember a similar impact on him in http://youtu.be/YjiTAkKhG28 as well.
You can see the influence of Paul Harris in some of David Blaine's earlier work - unfortunately while allowing your audience to sit in the astonishment state is very powerful in live performance, on TV you just come across as slow and smug. If you watch how Blaine ends a trick on the street, it's very understated and clearly has a big impact on the people he's performing to - but to the TV audience he just looks like an unlikable smug git.
When I read that essay, I agreed wholeheartedly with it and mentally examined all my closeup material. All of it was puzzling, funny or just lighthearted entertainment.
Only one trick had the potential for level of impact, and I'd spoilt that impact by repeatedly stamping on the moment with a reasonably amusing aside.
At my next gig I experimented with restructuring that trick to capitalise on that impact and tried it out on a couple of tables. By the end of the evening I had a feel for it and had moved it to the end of the set, my record that evening was around 2 minutes of stunned, confused, astonished silence - a truly wonderful moment for all concerned!
I knew then that compared to that moment, almost every single other trick in my repertoire was sub standard and I had a choice - go back to how I was, or throw it out and start again.
I stopped booking in new gigs, and finished off those that I had already committed to and started working up some new material. A process which I never quite finished.
Which is why I'm not a performing magician any more, but am still rabidly enthusiastic about it as an artform :)
 Apart from possibly my 3 watch stopping routine, where I stopped 3 borrowed watches simultaneously while the audience were holding them - but I retired that routine after I stopped some chaps Rolex and it wouldn't start again. Oops! A terribly awkward moment!
Jay Gilligan wrote something similar about jugglers' attire. At one point it was all shirt & waistcoats with black trousers & shoes. Then Sean Mckinney came along in jeans & t-shirt. A lot of people tried to emulate him but still wore the smart shoes rather than trainers.
Why are people sorry for writing long posts? I love long reads!
Very interesting, thanks. I'm surprised that you couldn't more easily adapt your existing tricks to the new style, but then I know nothing about magic and very little about performing. I've never liked watching magic much, but I think it's because I'm quite a logical person and hate to have unanswered questions. My frustration is always greater than my astonishment.
It's not so much about changing the style (writing some new words to go around the mechanics) it's about changing the structure of the trick. It's as much about psychology as it is about making your fingers do the special dance. I think my favourite quote about that is "magic happens in the audiences brain, not in your hands"
Magic tricks have "beats" and "offbeats" - where the audience tenses and relaxes respectively, to get the most impact you need to manipulate those beats/offbeats so that they build in a satisfying way, each beat amplifying the previous one. This performance element isn't really present in most juggling routines, so it's hard to find a common language to express it - so forgive any weak analogies in the following!
For a trick to have an astonishing impact, it has to be structured in a way that allows that. It has to build in the right way.
Most of my material at the time didn't have a suitable structure, and unlike a juggling routine where you can swap out one mechanical movement for another without preventing the rest of the routine from being possible - with magic effects the performer has to make the movements in the right order. Changing the story line of an effect without reworking the mechanics isn't a trivial task!
Sure I could build new, effective routines around the same mechanics, and that was what I set out to do (but never completed) but it's not just a case of changing the patter or the pacing. You have to change the underlying structure.
Perhaps there are better parallels to be drawn in programming. Sometimes you can give a program a new lease of life by reskinning it, tweak the UI and it becomes more satisfying to use and is a better product for it. Sometimes, you need to refactor large parts of the underlying infrastructure to achieve a satisfying result. Magic is much the same.
 Although when it *is* present, it's a tremendously powerful tool - and those acts really stand out
 eg substitute the mills mess bit of the routine for a boston mess and it doesn't really stop you from following it with backcrosses
Nice read, thanks.
I'm a strict amateur with magic (well, I did do one gig which was both magic and balloon modelling, but I realised within the first ten minutes that I needed to spend the next 170 minutes doing balloons!)
I've only experienced that 'what just happened?' moment with two tricks. The first was the Invisible Deck, which always provoked that reaction. I bought my first copy because it was one of the few tricks I'd seen where I had absolutely no clue how it was done, and was convinced there must be some limitation because it surely couldn't be as magical and clean as it appears. But it is! Such a beautiful trick!
The other I don't know the name of - but it was one you taught me. It's where two cards change into two completely different cards whilst held between the fingers of your volunteer. I had a girl scream and run away from me when experiencing that one. It completely broke her world view. But it required more skill than I possessed to do it cleanly, so I only got that reaction occasionally, if my audience wasn't particularly observant ;-)
I can't remember the name of that card transformation either, or whose routine it was originally. I (somewhat shamefully) reverse engineered it from a performance of another magician long before I ever knew what it was called.
It really does have the potential to be something good, although it's got several elements I always felt could have been cleaned up a lot. The tripple at the beginning is too untidy, the plot is willfully confusing in the middle (and relies too heavily on asking the audience member a question they don't really understand half way through) but the ending does have a decent kick to it.
I think it probably could be cleaned up and turned into something even better with only a little work. If I was still gigging I would probably try.
The one which I mentioned in my earlier post as being my first one - was my handling for card warp.
I re-learnt it a couple of years ago (as part of a failed new years resolution to learn and perform a trick a week for some friends) and once my fingers had remembered what to do when, it had all the impact I remember.
I got my copy of Art of Astonishment off the shelf last night and had a flick through, looking at all the tricks in there which I'd bookmarked as possibly suiting me. Who knows, I might learn a couple.
I now have a new favourite juggling video of the year. Amazing cigar boxing, excellent shooting, slightly marred by the lack of contrast of the boxes to the backgrounds, but still absolutely extraordinary.
Via Matt Hall.
But the name ends with a capital 'X'! You can't get cooler than that!
The soundtrack for the video sounds like an '80s Van Damme movie.
I did find myself wondering if the video or the names came first, but I liked some of them.
No reviews of Camp Dave. Was the change of site so traumatic that posting a review proved impossible or does no-one go anywhere but Suffolk and BJC's anymore. I couldn't go this year and have only spoken to a couple of people who did so am interested in finding out what people thought. I did hear that a quite a few regulars didn't make it and that Dave managed to fix the poker again.
I'd been holding off on writing anything because I was only there for one night, on the first Saturday. I'd love to hear from anyone who was there longer.
The site was nice enough (although while superficially appearing to be flat, it was in fact very slopey in lots of directions, just over shorter distances - not as comfortable in a tent but I was in the van so it was fine for me!) the compost loo arrangements were nice, but that's probably more because they were newly built rather than any particular quirk of design.
I didn't get a chance to explore the local area, but it seemed nice enough as I drove through it.
I didn't make much use of the catering, although the soup I did have from them was very nice. I was impressed by the plywood/lino false floor which had been constructed in the kitchen. That's got to make cleanup of a tented kitchen easier surely!
I had a lot of fun in the evening, drinking and mucking about with various old lags, but then that would have happened anywhere there were those people - and a bottle of tequila.
I made a pleasing amount of progress with the mouthstick/bottle trick considering I was only on site for 24 hours.
You managed to get the BOV to Dave Altman's place in Atlanta?! I'm impressed! (or is there another Camp Dave?)
Ahh, it's an easy mistake to make, the name is case sensitive. "Camp Dave" used to be in Bristol and is now in Oxford. "Camp DAVE" is the USA, if it ever happens. I propose we lessen the confusion by renaming the U.K. one "camp bastard" for clarity
I have just remembered a highlight, watching Dave get his caravan stuck on the gatepost of his own festival caused much chuckling :)
So....I went from Thursday to Sunday on the last weekend. Sorry to miss you LP.
It felt like an older Bristol, or possibly a slightly busier than usual Bungay. It's only one 4 acre field so everyone was in one place, which was great - I hadn't liked how Bristol has splintered into 5 or 6 different venues over the last few years. They had the Bungay big top plus a party tent stuck on one end as cafe/game space with the kitchen in another party tent stuck on the end.
Lots of old faces but many missing, which was sad. It's easier to get to for some and harder for others I guess. I did a few annual things (pass 8 clubs with Wise Paul, drink slammers with Ben Cornish & Lynn), helped put the show together (PA, staging - lots of fun as all we had were a few bits of string, sticks and tarp), plus the usual sitting about and chatting. I spent a lot of time with Kiwi Jo (who helped out at BBU) which was great, although the late night ooh-we-haven't-tried-that-drink-yet session caused pain the next day. The show was great fun and high quality. Facilities were mostly built by Uncle John, most were composting and the showers were the best I've used at a festival.
My only downside was the lack of noise curfew enforcement (Michael Jackson at 7am on Sunday makes me grumpy) - I'm not sure I can persuade the rest of the family to come if we'll all get that little sleep. Apart from that it was marvellous and a wonderful reboot of an old favourite.
As I was reading a book about Haikus, I wonder if we could do juggling Haikus. I'm not talking about poetry, but juggling sequences of a defined length, say 17 throws. I wish I was proficient enough with balls, rings or clubs to do that and give examples, but I'm not, so I'll let other people try it.
So, 17 throws, that's it, or 17 catches, that's up to us to decide. I'd love to have juggling haikus (or jaikus hehehe, I like that name) from Komei, Stefan, Wes, Guillaume, Eric, Viktor etc...
It reminds me of that exercise Luke Wilson came up with which mixed flats/halves/singles in some pattern which didn't repeat for ages.
It's almost a shame 17 is prime, as that means you can't do something like "combine this 5 step pattern of throw types with this 3 beat juggling pattern and get something which lasts 15 throws before it repeats"
Catches, not throws.
But 17 catches in a row? Do people still do that these days? I thought it was all... Throw, catch, twiddle, collect, 'plex, slapback, collect, throw, shoulder roll, pirouette, plex, scissor ....sequences these days.
*Puts down the spoon.*
*Picks up the spoon.*
*Develops a thirty five minute piece for open stage with it, including monotone blank verse, nudity and/or underwear, and a single club hanging from a string which is never used.*
*Prepares angry rebuttal explaining why you're all philistines who don't understand art. In monotone blank verse.*
*picks up camcorder, circles you while you're performing filming the spoon in intimate detail*
*refuses to get a haircut*
I like this idea. I'm thinking of 5 of all one type of catch, but with variations within (eg. penguins, some under the leg, some neutral, etc.), switch to a different type of catch for 7, and so on. Or perhaps varying the throw.
I think I prefer the beats/syllables/characters being on catches, though, as otherwise your haiku will have finished at the 17th throw, and finishing with a ball in the air seems strange.
ok audio geeks:
I have a WinXP machine with a Via AC'97 Audio Controller sound card hooked up to a Rotel RA-931 mk 2 amp & B&W speakers that is playing mp3s through iTunes all well & good. Unfortunately the XP machine is dying (after over 14 years of service *sniff*) so I've got a spangly new Win8.1 machine with a RealTek High Definition Audio card hooked up to the same amp & speakers that is playing the same mp3 files through WMP/VLC/XBox Music but the sound is tinny, crackly & generally crap. I haven't tried iTunes yet because it will take a month to download. What do I need to do?
(If it doesn't involve playing around with text files I'm crap with computers!)
Check the physical layer first.
Have you plugged it into the right socket on the sound card? What happens if you plug a pair of headphones into the output you're using on the sound card?
Beyond that, I can't help you as if it doesn't involve running linux servers, I'm crap with computers (especially windows ones)
I'm no expert but I think you'll find you get a massively superior sound with that setup by bypassing the card altogether and instead using a DAC (with separate power supply). Beresford (TC-7520 or later models) are excellent and great value for money. JRiver Media Center might be worth looking at too (rather than iTunes).
Is your line out plugged into the lime green socket? See connectors here.
As LP says, try a pair of headphones - if you get a good, clear sound from them then you know the card is capable of good quality output. If you can't find a way to get a clear sound from it, then suspect a faulty card.
A tinny and crackly output sounds very much like a poor connection somewhere, or possibly the wrong line out so the amp is working too hard to process a feeble signal.
What is the act called where you juggle 2 double cups and 1 ball in a cigar-box like manner? Does anyone have any examples of it?
I am thinking of trying to make a set of those cups...
Guy Heathcote Ballsticks
Classic Japanese juggling style
An Edo-daikagura juggling trick/style.
One of the above.
If you are following the construction instructions in that second video, the bit with the kettle and the mug is very important and shouldn't be skipped
Beard make (made?) a spun aluminium version of this prop, but it's no longer on their site. There's a pic on http://www.oddballs.co.uk/guy-heathcote-ball-stick-p-474.html , but they're sold out.
Thanks for the vids! What a pitty beard seems to have stopped producing them....
I don't think beard have actually made them since H was running the show, it's just taken them this long (15 years ish) to sell their stock... They were never a popular product! If you're lucky you might find a reseller who still has stock, but they may not have a pair - for some reason it seems a lot of people bought just one, not realising you need a pair for anything interesting.
I used to find the beard ones too big though, and taping two cups together gets you pretty close (you may want to drill through the cups and add a large nut/bolt for weight)
I've got a wooden set which were made for me by the lovely Duncan Hoyle, they're sized to fit my hands and a 4" stage ball. They're lovely props which I don't play with nearly enough. If you have access to someone with a lathe and would like some photos to use as references I can take some for you.
Yup, my plan was indeed to make one from 2 cups first and then if I enjoy it turn one on a lathe! I am glad I now know I should make tea first though ;)
I'd be curious to see what your wooden ones looks like!
I'm waiting for my camera battery to recharge, then I'll take a photo for you.
Beard had run out of ballsticks by Bristol last year. Butterfingers had one left (I bought it). Oddballs had none. I don't know of any retailers who do have them but could do with another spare. Of course for real enjoyment by all concerned ballsticks should be used with at least one audiball!
possibly the only person to combine audiball and ballsticks and not be lynched (yet).
I assume that's only because no one has managed to get close enough to you without searing ear pain to lynch you
I don't know what an audiball is, but even though I have no first hand experience I positively prefer not being lynched.. I guess I'll avoid trying out your recommendation just to be on the safe side...
Super easy to make. Buy eight plastic cups at a store. Use vinyl / electrical tape to make them. Each "stick" uses four cups. I'm going to be writing an article about the art form for eJuggle.
Sorry for taking so long, I'm not always the best organised person!
Anyway, Here's a photo of my wooden ball-sticks:
If the two ballsticks and the ball were not separate, they would not be much use.
Each one is a single piece of wood, the black lines are just decoration.
I like them a lot :)
I've got a wooden wine bottle that Duncan made for me at the same time. It weighs the same as an empty wine bottle and is actually hollow (not that you'd know if you look at it, the seam is very cleverly hidden!) - I'm finding it useful in my attempt to learn mouthstick stuff
They are holding up well. I've got a very minor chip on one of the edges of one ballstick, and a few dints and scratches - but they're not exactly in daily use (although they have been played with more than usual over the last 2 weeks)
I'm a bit paranoid about the bottle as while I'm confident it'll stand up to most drops, I do worry about it landing on the neck as if anything is going to kill it that would - and it's such a gorgeous piece of work, and so wondrously tactile I'd be proper gutted if I broke it.
So while I'm using the bottle daily at the moment, I am only doing so over soft surfaces and doing my best to catch with my hands first.
I'm sure it'll be fine, but I'm just so over protective of it :)
After saying how gorgeous it is, now you will have to post a picture of the wooden bottle.
Damn. Missed the 28 day estimated shipping time, but here's a picture of the wooden bottle (empty wine bottle for scale, yes it's a Rosé - stop judging me)
If there are any particularly annoying dents you could try fixing (or at least decreasing)them by placing a wet tissue over them and placing a hot soldering iron on it (being careful not to touch the wood directly of course). The steam should swell the wood fibres but if can be a slow process, taking several applications.
Personally I'd probably be leaving any dents as they are as they add to the items history.
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