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The circus is coming to town

by on April 20, 2010

(reposted from http://dailygleaner.canadaeast.com)

You can expect the unexpected when you see Jamie Adkins perform. Adkins delights people of all ages with his one-man circus comedy show, Circus Incognitus.

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Since his start as a street performer in San Diego at the age of 13, Jamie Adkins has been delighting audiences of all ages as an eclectic clown, juggler, balancing artist and poet. Adkins now presents his newest solo creation, Circus Incognitus, at The Playhouse on Tuesday, April 27.

In it he is an eclectic clown, juggler, balancing artist and poet.

In this performance, which lasts just over an hour, Adkins will do almost anything to get a laugh.

He also enjoys amazing audiences with the skills he’s been perfecting since he was a 13-year-old street performer in San Diego.

Everything he does is self-taught, which, he admits, isn’t the easiest or quickest way to learn these skills.

“It’s a very long process when you don’t have a teacher. I can teach children how to juggle in 15 minutes. It took me one week before I could juggle three balls.”

While he is in Fredericton he will hold a workshop for anyone who wishes to learn how to do some of what he does. He says it’s a great pleasure to share his skills.

“Juggling takes a long time to learn. You can’t teach someone a trick in a one- or two-hour workshop but you can teach them how to think about juggling. You will set them on the right path and they can go as far as they want with it.”

Now he juggles just about anything. If he can lift it, he says, he can juggle it.

The weirder the funnier, he says. He will often juggle while he rides a unicycle.

He was a newspaper carrier for three months when he was a teen so he could earn enough money to buy a unicycle.

Talk about the school of hard knocks: He fell off the unicycle constantly for four days and was covered in bumps and bruises, scratches and scrapes before he was able to stay on it and ride with ease.Adkins earned a living from age 16 to 22 doing a comedy juggling show.

“In the beginning, I always focused more on getting laughs than applause.”

Now he is 39 years old and continues to thrill his audiences with everything he does in his one-man silent circus comedy.

Don’t expect a traditional circus routine. Instead, Adkins says he prefers to take his circus skills and use ordinary objects to draw his audience into his unique and funny world.

For instance a fork and a knife along with a grape is part of the act.

“I eat a grape with a fork and it ends with people in the audience throwing lemons at me, which I catch with the fork in my mouth. What I like about this routine is that if you don’t like the show, you can at least throw lemons at me.”

No rotten tomatoes though, please. But, if someone were to show up with a fresh tomato, Adkins says, he would try to catch it with a fork in his mouth.

Adkins took his gift from the street to the theatre. For five years he was part of the Pickle Family Circus in San Francisco. Then he became a member of Montreal’s Cirque Éloize in 1998. After four years there, he started his own show.

He has also done three seasons with Cirque du Soleil in New York City, which takes place in November and Deccember.

“That works out perfectly for me. I get to perform with them for those two months and then do my own show for the rest of the year and that’s what I prefer doing. I am a performer who likes to improvise and change things up and to work with the audience and relate with them and that’s easier to do in a solo show.”

He’s performed in Fredericton in 2004 and before that in 1999 with Cirque Éloize. He’s travelled to 15 countries and has performed for thousands of people of all ages.

If you decide to see this show, Adkins says expect to laugh and be surprised. While this show is scripted, much of it happens spontaneously. For instance, he will balance a piece of paper on his nose. Then he will ball it up and it will be used in his juggling. A ladder could be used as part of an acrobatic routine.

“I do the same show every night but there is a lot of improvisation. I am doing a lot of skills; walking on wires, acrobatics with ladders. When you do this for one hour there are bound to be some mistakes. People can’t tell which are the real mistakes and which are planned for comedy.”

It’s a show for all ages. It’s sophisticated enough for adults and funny enough to keep kids laughing from beginning to end.

“I am surprised almost every show. As a performer, doing a show that I try to keep spontaneous, it is really important to have those surprising moments.

“Like I said, I hand out lemons and once you arm the audience with lemons and have them throw them at your face, you have no idea what’s going to happen.”

Sometimes he will get a squirt in the eye but the real damage is done to his suit, which by the end of the show is covered in juice.

Adkins is the father of a two-week-old baby girl. Talk about life unscripted. This is improvisation at its finest and he says he is learning how to be a dad from his daughter.

Normally his wife, Amanda Russell, travels with him when he takes his show on the road. But not on this tour.

“When we are confident as parents, we will tour together.”

When that time comes, it will truly be a family circus.

Fast facts

Who: Jamie Adkins

What: Circus Incognitus

Where: The Playhouse

When: Tuesday, April 27 at 7 p.m.

Tickets: $28; students $18; members $23. For more information contact the box office at 458-8344 or by email at: boxoffice@theplayhouse.ca

Information about workshop: Join professional circus artist Jamie Adkins as he demonstrates all you need to know to become a skilled juggler at The Playhouse during a workshop on Tuesday, April 27 at 3:30 p.m.

Already know how to juggle? Get information and tips on cool juggling tricks. Participants are required to bring their own juggling balls or Hacky Sacks. This is for performers who are nine years old and over. Registration is required. This will take place at The Playhouse.

Workshop tickets: $10. Free admission for members. For more information contact Amani Wassef at amani@theplayhouse.ca or 459-6212.

Links:

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One Comment
  1. Tim Yerxa permalink

    I’ll be talking to CBC Radio’s Terry Seguin tomorrow morning about this great event! Tune in at 8:20am. 99.5FM in Fredericton.

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