Cirque PROM was a critical hit at last summer’s Montreal Fringe Festival and to my absolute delight, it is being remounted in a more fleshed out form. This immersive experience takes you to a high school graduation prom with comic circus acts. It is sometimes little bit dirty and is definitely not made for kids. Each character experiences some level of transformation and the groups acts that hold it together give it the sense of the prom and its pageantry. I had a chance to speak with Krin Haglund of the Radiant, the creator and director and with Sara Deull of Cirquantique, the show’s assistant director.
Angela Potvin (AP): So you are using Bain Mathieu. That’s a really fun space. Are you using the whole thing?
Krin Haglund (KH): It’s fantastic. That’s one of the first things that we are going to do when we get in there, exercises to figure out how every character can use the space during the show. Also, because it’s Bain Mathieu, we want to encourage people to move around because it’s just such a huge space.
AP: So it’s not going to be a stand-around; it’s going to have a more dynamic feel?
KH: One of the characters that didn’t exist at the Fringe, which was our first run, our “test of the concept”, the Cheerleader of Gloom who basically protests prom, is acting mostly away from the stage, to the point where you should be looking for her in the parking lot as you come in. So yeah, it’s a very dynamic experience.
AP: What are the directing themes in this show?
KH: I don’t want to make it into an after-school special. That is so often what these are about. That’s not fun enough. Parodies of an afterschool special are however more fun and you may get a little bit of a sense of that. But I would say the big thing is that high school, especially if you go to public school, is the last time that you are somewhere with your neighbors, the random kids in your neighborhood. You haven’t selected for your peer-group and you have to learn how to be around strangers, people that are different from you. Part of what I’ve tried to do is to celebrate that. One of the things that I was talking to Sara about is that I look for different people, unicorns, people with something different which I feel that you have that in high school. I also don’t cast age appropriate. This isn’t 90210. My youngest acrobat is 4’9 and is 22 and is one of the funniest people that I’ve ever met.
AP(to Sara Deull): And how has it been for you to work on this show?
SD: It’s been fantastic, I’m learning a new side of production. I’m usually onstage, not on this side of things. It’s a great experience. Cirquantique, my company who is co-producing this show, has just completed one year and to be able to offer our residency space to The Radiant, a strong company, and producing together has been a great collaboration.
AP: How has it been to have two circus companies working together?
SD: This show concept works really well, because Cirquantique works with “ages”, such as Ancient Rome, Steampunk, 1920s, specific aesthetics, and Cirque PROM is that. It takes you into the school gym with the poofy prom dresses, and you are in it, interacting with the performances, which is what we do as a rule. There is not that big separation between the performances and the performers.
KH: I just want to say something about Cirquantique too. There are a lot of big companies in Montreal that have a lot of money and that create beautiful shows. But now that I am trying to start a small company and that they are starting a small company, this collaboration is really exciting because this is how a lot of stuff is going to get done in circus. There are a lot of smaller companies doing great shows and this kind of collaboration is going to be more and more common in the future.
So there you have it. Look forward to great things in these companies’ futures and in the meantime, dust off your corsage and get ready to boogie. Did I mention that there’s an afterparty with DJs until the wee hours of the morning? After all, what’s a prom without a dance?
Cirque PROM is at the Bain Mathieu (2915 Ontario E.) on April 10 to 11 at 8 p.m.