(Photo: Oliver Fantitsch)
I’ve been in Hamburg for a couple of weeks now, and just finished the first week of shows at the Hansa Variety Theatre. Eight down, one hundred and thirty nine to go.
Heading into this gig, there were quite a few things I wasn’t fully clear on. I didn’t know much about the other acts, didn’t know exactly how each show would run, and was just generally didn’t know the nitty gritty of how the whole thing was going to work.
It’s a lot clearer now. Allow me to share.
Firstly, let’s talk about the acts (in order of appearance):
- Erik Ivarsson – Swedish unicyclist, accompanied by his assistant Emily. Rides a series of one-wheeled vehicles around the stage, doing increasingly impressive tricks on them.
- The Liazeed – Cuban/German acrobatic trio. A heap of strength/balance displays based around the three of them and a big custom platform/stairs/rotating-disco-ball-capable-of-supporting-the-weight-of-three-people rig.
- Simon Coronel – Australian illusionist. Already well-documented.
- David Burlet – French juggler and plate spinner. Starts off spinning plates, and then, to put it mildly, wacky hijinks ensue.
- The Giurintanos – Italian roller skating dance artists, for lack of a more official term. Essentially: incredibly fit pair of artists, plus roller skates, plus high velocity spinning, plus creatively applied centrifugal force, equals “woah.”
- Maxim Kriger – Russian/German “rola rola” (tube/board balancing act). He starts by going into a one-handed handstand, then basically doing one-handed bounce pushups while still in a handstand. Then the act gets more impressive from there.
- Jochen Schell – German juggling/balancing/top-spinning guy. I was pretty impressed the first time I saw someone spin a large heavy top on the tip of their finger. Jochen does it on the tip of a katana.
- Charly Borra – slightly legendary Austrian pickpocket, smoke ring blower, and general charmer. I realised at the rehearsal that this is the first time I’ve ever seen someone actually do smoke ring tricks live. It is an experience that I highly recommend.
The acts vary between about 8 and 15 minutes long, and there is a 30-minute interval between David and The Guirintanos, making the whole show run for about 2.5 hours total.
Overall, having now watched all the acts throughout rehearsals, it’s a pretty bloody impressive show. It’s also been selling well so far, which is great for everyone involved. The producers make more money, and everyone else gets to bask in the implicit glory of a show that is clearly popular.
There is plenty more to share about this fascinating and frequently-stranger-than-fiction world, but the above will do for now. Stay tuned over the next few weeks/months as we keep exploring the professional variety arts world…