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Friday, November 21, 2008

The circus comes to Kampala

It will be a beautiful moment as refined form circus performances come to town as opposed to the almost amateur style stage clowning and acrobatics we are used to writes Dennis D. Muhumuza

The art of circus in Uganda has seemingly remained elusive although the country boasts a vibrant performing culture in as far as music, dance and drama go. Will the upcoming Kampala Dream Circus then set the precedent and stir our performers to rediscover themselves in the area of circus entertainment?

That for sure shall be known on Saturday November 8, at Nakasero Primary School playground (near Fang Fang Hotel) where the first Uganda made circus show will take place from 6-10pm for Shs2,000 (Adults) and Shs500 (Children).

Organised by Alliance Fran├žaise, Kampala and the Ugandan German Cultural Society in conjunction with the In Movement: Art for Social Change, and sponsored by the French and Germany Embassies, among others, the event is aimed at promoting local talent and intercultural exchange, raising awareness and appreciation of the art of circus in Uganda.

It’s a show that will combine the art of juggling, clowning, miming, acrobatics and gymnastics, break-dance, magic tricks, balloon making, walking on stilts, and movement --the latter focusing on what the organisers have called “the concept of animals.”

Although the show will feature international circus artists like Mareike Moerschen from Germany and Sylvain Bernabe from France, critics will be curious to see if the performances are relevant in concept and nature to appeal to the average Ugandan.

Should that not be the case, then those interested in nurturing the art of circus will have lost an important platform in the making, considering that the organisers view this show as a dress rehearsal of sorts which if well-received will be turned into an annual event.

There’s however reason to hope for the best since preceding the Saturday show has been a weeklong workshop that began November 3-7 in which local and international artists had to interact and talk about technique methods and training through performance.

The opening act at the Kampala Dream Circus will be a combined team of children from Nsambya Ex-Street Children Organisation, Rainbow International School, Reach Out School and Banunule Primary School.

Circus clowns are known for overt exaggeration: big noses, oversize shoes, strange haircuts and mismatched clothing as they bumble their way across the stage, engaging in foolery meant to make people laugh.

Hopefully it won’t be the kind of clowning that borders on the vulgar. But as the show is directed by guest artists who are experienced professionals, one expects a hilarious approach, perfectly timed tricks and generally mirth-making closer to what made Charlie Chaplin a darling of the world.