Saturday, October 26, 2013

Hawaii, big island, secret circus incubator.

Kona and the Big Island have played a quiet but very powerful part in the world of Circus arts and street performance.
It’s known by many that Guy Laliberte, the founder of Cirque du Soleil first arrived here as a burnt out street performer to rehabilitate himself and the character of Kona and this Island allowed him the time and space to incubate an idea that went on to change the way Circus is viewed forever.  

There is another connection very few people know or appreciate. Robert Nelson, also known as the Butterflyman was one of  the most successful and respected comic street performance artist America has ever produced. He was a very dear friend of mine and he spent his last 20 years based just out of Pahoa. His last ever performance was a show here in Kona that I dared him to do at one of the monthly village strolls. He was retired and content to simply maintain his property and take a handcart out and pick the litter up from a mile long stretch of highway 130 every week. He died peacefully at home last year, I was honored to share his last months and moments and there is already a commemorative plaque installed in his honor. at pier 39 in San Francisco where he would routinely draw crowds of up to a thousand people.

So Kona and the big Island have had a more or less hidden but powerful place and impact in the hearts of clowns and circus folk and comic street performers.

I am a clown with a big idea which is I want to bring it all back home.

My primary aims are

To promote for one week in April, the tourist destination of Kailua-Kona to an extent that the tourist occupation capacity is exceeded by demand.

To create an online audience over a year that exceeds the onsite population over the course of the event.

To invigorate, inspire, educate and create employment opportunities within the community of Kona to expand the perimeters of what is considered possible. Empowering it’s creative potential.



It's often been noted that I think too much however the upside is that after Byzantine routes and mind threatening gymnastics I sometimes arrive at simple conclusions whose foundations are unusually deep as a consequence of the journey taken.

One of the more profound conclusions I've stumbled onto is the awesomeness and ethereal beauty that surrounds the production of 'moments' in the context of my chosen vocation as a street performer.

A 'moment' as defined here is an instance where within the context of a performance a unique interaction takes place and both the performer/s and the audience are aware that something unique and creative is unfolding before them.

'Moments' can be prefabricated and counterfeited and often are and can work very well for an audience but by definition lack that mutual frission where all concerned step quite consciously into the moment and it's unfolding delight.

Theatre mainly involves the composite of produced and in most cases polished instances which create narrative moments for the audience. The production of a rehearsed one way transaction.

Street theatre in many cases employs the same mode and now that street theatre festivals have blossomed during the last 20 odd years there are many acts that are essentially displays. Acts that work just as well on stage as they do in improvised public spaces. For better or worse they are prefabricated products which is not to say they're lacking quality, the best are inspiring, spectacular, funny, etc. What they have in common is that their content is pre prescribed. They may produce moments but themselves do not contain any by the definition employed here. The moments they produce are devices rather than instances.

The type of street performer of most interest to me is one who creates a sparse structure that they depart from at will as they go fishing for moments. They are a subset on the spectrum however they tend to create consistently unique situations within their performance, either by branching off with some impulse that forms itself on the fly or by integrating some member of the public into the performance which brings with it a component of the unknown.

Most marketing for street performers or festivals associated with them focus almost reflexively on moments. I say reflexively because I have yet to see a festival focus on moments as the focal point of their marketing. Staged shots, produced visual impacts belie the bedrock foundation of advertising that is found in such abundance in street performance. 'Moments'

I see this as an opportunity, media has come a long way in the last few years.

A smattering of Talent..

The English Gents  and


Rob Torres and

Boy with tape on his face


Frazer Hooper


Peter Panic

Glenn Singer

Bobarino Gravitini

Mr Spin


Nick Nickolas

Modern Gypsies



Sharon Mahoney

Drew Richardson

Jonathan Burns

The Jim Show