The $ave Je$u$ Project

I have this problem where if I get an idea and it feels too strong and won’t go away I have to get it out of my system and fast before I go crazy! The $ave Je$u$ Project. Not meant to offend.

One night after performing some play my cast mates and I went to the local pub. I had one sip of my Guinness and for no reason whatsoever, with no warning, and no context, a vision appeared in my head. An entire act. A living statue act. A street performing act. A piece of theatre that was terrifying my insides. This is what I saw.

A male or female actor playing the part of Jesus on a cross. A giant rock in front of the Jesus that said $ave Je$u$. This rock would act as our hat to collect money in. The flag on top of the Cross would also have $$$ written on it. Every time people threw money into the rock/hat Jesus would come alive, say Thank You and some blood would spill out of his/her palms. Sometimes Jesus would also have a little stretch as its bloody hard to be a statue. I imagined the theatre would happen around the cross and within the audience. Depending on your religious views, upbringing and beliefs everyone would get something different from viewing this statue. Your background would determine your own personal interpretation on what you saw. The discussion around the act would be the story. The conversation and reactions would turn this simple idea into a piece of gorilla theatre. And that would be that. This is what I saw within one sip of my lovely Guinness.  I immediately told all my cast what I saw in my head and with great encouragement everyone told me I should do it. So for the next year I planned and plotted and made things.

Firstly where was I going to do this project? The Canadian Fringe Festival in Edmonton, Alberta is the biggest Fringe festival in North America. Fringe basically means uncensored. You can do whatever you  want in performance. There are no real rules or restrictions especially on the street. I thought this festival would be perfect! I studied all the rules and requirements to make sure I would not get in trouble for anything. There was only a few clauses that somebody could try and pull me up on but then another clause would cancel that out. I was ready and prepped for any arguments against my act. There was nothing legally they could do to stop me.

Secondly I needed some brave actors to play my Jesus. I would have played the part myself but Alberta is a redneck province in Canada. I though it best that during the show I would walk around, listen and take notes as to what I heard coming from the crowds. That way if anybody wanted to get violent or upset I would tap them on the shoulder and say it was all mine and not to have a go at my actors. Safety was important. Lucky for me I have some amazing friends who basically volunteered there time in helping me make this project a reality. Some very good Jesus actors indeed.

I had a builder make my cross, a set designer made my costumes and rock. Found  a place a few blocks down from the festival to store the cross every day. We were good to go!

Day one of the fringe festival was going to determine whether we would last the entire ten days. I woke early that morning excited for what was to come but when I tried to speak I had no voice! Nothing! So strange! Not even a whisper was coming out of my vocal chords and I had no idea why. Could it be a curse? :) Went to the docs got some antibiotics but had no idea how this happened and when I would get my voice back. This would be perfect. Trying to defend my act on day one with no voice! Bloody Brilliant!

With notepad and pen in hand I met my team and carried the cross on my shoulders down the streets to the festival grounds. As soon as we put the cross up, actor up, blood ready, rock ready the audience grew quickly. I wrote down everything that I heard. I listened and filmed all reactions possible. Within minutes security and staff were onto me. They tried to pull up every rule in their book that I had studied previously and could not find any reason to shut me down. But boy did they try. And they tried hard. My inside sources told me there were serious meetings happening indoors as to what they could do to me. But there was nothing they could do. This was the Fringe. Uncensored. The security at the festival thought I was playing up by not speaking. Little did they know my voice vanished mysteriously. So our arguments were hilariously slow as I had to scribble on my notepad to converse and defend what I was doing. But we made it past day one!

Day two as I carry the cross on my back down the streets a swarm of wasps keep following me. Everyone thought I was being cursed. No voice, swarm of wasps, probably a plague. I think it was due to my sugar based blood I made for the palms of Jesus. I made a lot of blood. I had to if we were going to last the entire festival. I was very optimistic. But damn these wasps are nasty! We perform our shifts again and security come back at me saying we have to get rid of the blood, not due to the wasps, but due to the fact children were scared and crying. Ummm what? I have documented everything and not a single child was frightened or crying. In fact kids were coming up and putting money into our rock. I had video evidence but the fringe would have none of that. I reluctantly agreed to take away the blood. I regret this decision but it forced me to come up with another solution. So in replacement of blood I stuff some magic mouth coils into Jesus’ hands and he/she would pull them out in representation of the blood. Meh…it worked but not as visual as the blood.

All in all we ended up performing for the entire festival. After numerous complaints and sometimes fights everything was a success! It was fascinating to watch people of different backgrounds and how they would interpret this piece of street theatre. Some religious people actually thought it was hilarious. Some religious people found it offensive. Everybody was different. The best part was that it caused conversation amongst the people watching. It didn’t matter who or what or where people came from as it actually brought people together no matter what their interpretation was of this act.

To this day I somehow can’t believe I had enough courage to do this. Not sure if I would be brave enough to do it again. At the same time I would love to take it into an indoor setting and see if it changes the reactions of the people. This is what happens with one sip of Guinness. Lucky for me I don’t drink much.

Here is a little video for your viewing pleasure: The $ave Je$u$ Project.

10 Years…

This month ten years ago I split from my one and only love. I gave up the only thing I knew how to do. I left the only job I ever had. I turned my back on everything and everyone because bloody magic beat me up and stole my feelings away.

When I was 5 years old a lady used to take me to watch TYA. (Theatre for Young Audiences.) Sitting on sticky blue matts on the floor with other kids watching these people act, dance, and sing (sometimes out of tune). I never realised how much TYA would have an effect on me. And then as cheesy as this sounds at 8 years old I had a dream I was on stage performing and that is what started it all.

So how do I become an Actor?  I started off doing shows for my neighbourhood. I put adverts in mail boxes and I would perform on the grass for all who came. I can’t imagine how bad this was at now 9 years old although I knew had to start somewhere. After the hours of  horrors of school, I took at least 3 different acting classes a week. I also didn’t want to sing out of tune so I started participating in city choirs as part of my training. One of my siblings was taking ballet classes and I went to watch her show. Wait what? a SHOW?…totally out of pure jealousy, and over coming my tom-boyish ways I forced my mother to put me into ballet classes so I could be in a show, any show!  I knew ballet would help me become a much better actor in the future. I knew Voice and Speech were important so I started taking exams in phonetics, speech and drama via Trinity College of London.

By the time I was 11 I realised that there were more roles for boys then girls in the theatre. So I chopped off all my hair. I got savvy to all the professional theatre companies that might use kids in productions and would audition for anything possible. Missing months and months of school for years and  getting paid to do what I loved was the best childhood!

In between performing and training I would watch every type of theatrical production at least twice every week.  I got good, real good at sneaking into theatres and finding free seats. I was so obsessed that I would even volunteer my time to mop stages before their shows. I loved everything about this Acting World.

By 14 I knew I wanted to train at only the top theatre schools when I got older so in between all of my after school lessons I hired a private acting teacher to help me with my audition monologues for the future.

The Future! The top 3 theatre schools to me were  R.A.D.A in London, National Theatre School or the BFA Acting program at U of A in Canada.  At 16 I thought I was old enough to audition for R.A.D.A and obviously when I entered the room they said I was too young. However they accepted me into the Shakespeare program until I was ready for the conservatory. Ahhh I couldn’t wait that long! So the following year I auditioned for the schools in Canada and to my surprise got into both of them. NTS and BFA only accept 12 students a year. I knew it was rare to be accepted even at barely 18 but shit yeah my life long plan was working! The next three years of theatre school was the best training I ever had until…

The End.  4 months after graduating, contracts for shows already signed, getting ready to be a proper adult actor and I happen to watch a street magician named Nick Nickolas. He destroyed me.  I didn’t know what magic was, I didn’t know magician’s even existed. However in that moment I knew magic was the ONLY thing in my life that has ever distracted me away from the acting world. So I had to follow my feelings. How was it possible after all these years dedicated to acting that a thing called magic could creep in with a force and kidnap me away. How? My focus was split and  it was not fair on my colleagues. So one day I left. I left knowing I would not ever act again. Didn’t tell anybody. Made myself simply “unavailable” for any future shows that might come my way. Decided to get tattoos to further prevent the possibility of me even going to an audition. Moved to a city where I made sure nobody knew my past. Promised myself to never watch theatre again.

The last 10 years magic has been my only focus. In fact magic saved me from a potentially type cast career as an actor. I know this now looking at the acting world from the outside. I realised that as a Canadian-British Citizen with Polish/Filipino origins I would have been doomed. When I first started magic it was the first time I performed as me and not a character. The first time I realised as an ethnic minority  there would be hardly any acting parts in the real world. How could I have been so ignorant and not discover this huge problem before? So in a sense magic saved me. Magic saved me just in time. However I do miss the smell of a freshly mopped theatre, the glows of the ghost light when the curtain falls, the collaborative environment, the epiphany of a piece of text, the cast mates that become closer then family, the sounds of a sitzprobe, and even the stress of a cue to cue. I miss it. A part of me feels like I betrayed all of my acting professors who helped me develop my individuality and discover what I can do with imagination. It still hurts not doing it anymore. It hurts a lot. But 10 years on there is no going back.

So Thank You Magic and Happy Ten Year Anniversary.

 

 

 

Krowd Keepers Magic Theatre

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As a magician its very important to constantly find the opportunity to keep performing. The only way a magician can hone in an act, polish routines and be constructively criticised is by performing for the lay public regularly. The life of a magician can be very lonely as so much practice and study is done in private and it surprises me to learn how many magicians in the industry hardly ever perform for lay people.  I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to perform every week in Bath, England at Krowd Keepers Magic Theatre

The shows run every Friday and Saturday at 8pm Upstairs at the Ale House Pub.Tickets can be purchased in advance here OR at the door. Its a small theatre and we can only hold 40 people but the intimacy adds to the atmosphere and the quality of magic that we do. We do suggest an age limit of 10+ as magic is not just for kids.

Krowd Keepers is my weekly venue where I can play, try new magic out, and perform constantly to lovely lovely audiences. I hope to see you there sometime soon.

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Posing on the stage at Krowd Keepers Bath’s only Magic Theatre.

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Audience having a fantastic time watching magicians perform at Krowd Keepers Magic Theatre

 

The Next Great Magician on ITV

When I was first introduced to magic around 8-9 years ago it was during a time in my life where I was training on aerial silks, rope, and static trapeze with my colleagues at Firefly Theatre in Edmonton, AB Canada. We put together a show and I was challenged by Firefly theatre to see if I could combine magic and aerial arts together. I was a baby beginner at both art forms but decided to come up with 3 different routines using the apparatus. Its quite embarrassing to look back at the lack of technique in magic and circus but this is what I came up with….Billy Kidd Silks & Card Trapeze

At that time I had no idea I was going to go deeper into a magical career. I also had no idea that by putting  this on youtube would generate numerous requests to perform this routine at other events and television programs in the future. I successfully avoided performing this routine for 8 years until I got called to appear in The Next Great Magician on ITV in the UK. So I thought maybe its time to retrain on the Trapeze, maybe its time to finally get this over with and recreate my magical trapeze act again. So challenge #2 accepted. But wait…I totally have lost all my skills on the Trapeze. This is going to be a problem!

So I got a private coach, the wonderful Nicole A’Court Stuart at the Island circus space in Bristol and trained for 3 months. Trapeze is hard! very hard! It requires so much strength and focus. I had to redevelop calluses on my hands so I wouldn’t drop and die! I also had to learn how to speak while huffing and puffing keeping myself up while performing an already crazy magic routine with a bean coming out of my eye! To say the least I was terrified for so many different reasons.

The Next Great Magician on ITV.

Series 1 of The Next Great Magician on ITV.

 

Backstage with presenter / magician Stephen Mulhern.

Backstage with presenter / magician Stephen Mulhern.

 

Magic & Trapeze & Beans.

Magic & Trapeze & Beans.

So if you watched ITV on November 27th 2016 I am on episode 4 of The Next Great Magician hosted by the hilarious Stephen Mulhern and the beautiful Rochelle Humes. Lots of trapeze moves were edited out but at the end of the day I’m glad I took the challenge and also very glad its over. lol.

Here is a link to my performance on The Next Great Magician on ITV

Italy, Scotland, and Portugal…Oh My!

Summer is officially over!  After performing in China for a month I had the opportunity to continue my mostly new/non english speaking street show for Masters of Magic in Turin Italy. We toured to small villages in the mountains around Italy and performed for the tourists and locals. It was great fun filled with even greater food. It was my first time performing magic in Italian and I had to learn quickly. I love taking on the challenge of performing my show in foreign languages.
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After Italy I flew straight to Edinburgh Scotland for the Fringe Festival. This festival is a beast. Its very very hard work, long hours and lots of competition. If you are a street performer who wants to perform at the Fringe please do  your homework. Its a tough one for so many different reasons. All in all a good laugh and great to see so many amazing shows and meet up with old and new friends. img_0714

After Edinburgh, a quick week off performing at Krowd Keepers Magic Theatre in Bath and then off to Portugal for the 20th Anniversary of Encontros Magicos. This is a fantastic magic festival and it had been 7 years since I was last there. Luis de Matos and team are simply amazing to work for. Every day I was performing shows in the streets of Coimbra along with other magicians from all around the world. It was a great brain switch from learning Chinese, to Italian, to Scottish, to Portuguese.
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Performing in China

For the month of July 2016 I had the opportunity to perform in China. I was doing daily shows in a funny looking theatre in a city called Chengde.  It was my first time doing a completely silent magic act!  I’m usually a very verbal act on stage so this was quite a big challenge for me. I’m happy to say that everything worked! Although I think I prefer to speak on stage:) Hoping to go back and perform in China again soon. Thanks to all the people of China who came to watch our show in Chengde.

Before my last show in China I took to the local sights of SledgeHammer Rock. Beautiful!

Our interesting looking theatre in Chengde China. British Magic Show every night of July.

In between magic shows I took a hike to the Great Wall of China.

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