ABSOLUT Fringe 2012 | Interview with Ken Fanning | Tumble Circus
Part of ABSOLUT Fringe 2012, This Is What We Do For A Living is an inside look at what really happens in the lives of circus performers. Featuring zero sequins and typical circus razzle dazzle, the show is about how a Swedish girl met a Balbriggan boy on the streets of Dublin in the 90s and how they fell in and out of love, all the while performing aerial gymnastics and acrobatics. Winning big at Adelaide Fringe this year, this show is one not to be missed. We caught up with the Irish half of Tumble Circus, Ken Fanning, ahead of the Irish debut of This Is What We Do For A Living to get an insight into circus life in the 21st century.
How are preparations going for the show? You’ve been touring it for a while so presumably it’s ready to go?
The show’s all ready to go, we’re really excited to get into the space in Smock Alley. We just did a run in Edinburgh, twenty-six shows, so we know what we’re doing.
For people who don’t know the show, can tell us a little bit about what This Is What We Do For A Living is?
It’s a comedy circus show, about myself and Tina who’ve been working together for 17 years so it moves around our own personal story, but in a high-skilled circus act.
And how did you get interested in circus acts and performing, was it as a child?
No I did nothing, I was the most un-physical person you’ve ever met, it wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I really got into it. I started juggling when I was 19, I was living in squats in Holland and someone taught me how to juggle and I thought ‘I’d like to make a living out of this’, and then I was down in Spain with all these street performers and I liked their way of life, just travelling around and doing what they love, so it was via street theatre really.
When was your big break, or moment when you decided this was going to be your career?
I remember going to circus school when I was 23 in England, and was really cynical about it thinking I wouldn’t last the first term, but after the first day I knew it was what I wanted to do for a living. And it was always our ambition to be able to travel around and do shows, and we managed to do that for a few years with the basic skills we had, and people kept hiring us so we kept doing it.
What is it about circus acts and street performance that has kept people entertained for centuries?
Well it’s universal, the physical skills involved we can all do, it’s a language that we all understand and it crosses borders. At different times in history it’s been more prevalent, in the 1900’s circuses were massive but sort of faded away.
The theme of the show, the relationship between you and Tina, what made you decide that was going to be what you based the show around?
When we were brainstorming the show, we knew we wanted it to be about something and not just a show, and the stuff that people kept asking us about was our relationship and wanted to know about it, and we wanted to make it about something else. But the more we workshopped ideas, this one just kept coming up.
How much of the material is fictional and how much has come from your actual experiences?
Most of it is fictional, we went to a few shows researching it and realised that a lot of the real life stuff is actually quite boring. You go to the theatre to be entertained, so we used our story as the frame and placed the comedy over it to make it something more for the audience.
What’s it like coming home to Dublin?
Well our story started in Dublin, we met here, and this is the first time we’re performing it here which we’re really excited about. We started the show two and a half years ago, and we really wanted to perform in last year’s Fringe so we’re really excited for everyone to see what it is that we do. We’re really the only contemporary circus companies in Ireland, there are lots of other companies that use circus elements but wouldn’t call themselves circus acts, where as we are a full creative circus company.
What’s the lifestyle like as a travelling circus performer? Are there worries or any health concerns or security issues?
Well I’m going to be 40 next year, and we’re still learning stuff, we don’t learn at the same pace as we did in our 20’s and 30’s but we’re still learning. We’re making a new show at the moment called Death of the Circus and we’re looking to put bigger, physical skills in it. Circus is a lifestyle, but it’s more of a practice for us. It’s something that we do every day and that we want to constantly better ourselves at. We hope to keep doing it on this level for 5 or 6 years and then maybe move down to smaller things and retire into clowning!
This Is What We Do For A Living opens tonight at the Boys School in Smock Alley Theatre as part of ABSOLUT Fringe 2012, and runs until Saturday September 22nd. Tickets from €11 available from the ABSOLUT Fringe Box Office, and online at www.fringefest.com
Story by EI Team | 09:00 | Monday 17th September 2012 | Theatre
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