- 21, Jun 2019
- Parisian theatre
- Amanda Mehtala
“I was looking to bring back the sensations I had as a street performer. I prefer intimacy and small spaces to giant circus tents, places where the audience sees the sweat and every glance of the artists. For me, circus begins with everyday objects, a kitchen scale, an orange, a piece of paper. The things that will revert back to what they are at the end of the show.”
- Jamie Adkins
Interview with Jamie Adkins, star of his own one-man circus, Circus Incognitus
Jamie Adkins was interviewed by Stéphane Bouquet with the Théâtre de la Cité Internationale in Paris when he first presented Circus Incognitus in 2012. Originally published in French, the Theatre in Paris team has translated the interview to English so you can get to know the star of the one-man circus, Circus Incognitus. Jamie Adkins is truly a star, able to create roarous laughter with the most simple of gestures. After a chance encounter with a fascinating street performer at the age of 13, Jamie saw his calling and quickly learned the ropes, becoming a clown, acrobat, juggler extraordinaire. Though he got started in California, Jamie Adkins now counts more than one thousand performances in 22 countries!
What does the title of your show mean? Is it a way of saying the show can be about anyone?
The title comes from the fact that I’m an ordinary guy who plays a one-man-show. I’m not trying to be the guy everyone has heard of, so the title is kind of a play on words that says “who is this guy, Jamie Adkins?”
Your show seems to feature someone who has difficulties with language, is this an appropriate way to summarise?
My character has a lot to say, but he doesn’t really know how to say it. In the end, he discovers that he didn’t even need any words but rather actions and gestures. I find that I am better and more clearly able to express myself without words. When I use words on stage, I tend to say too much and the sense in what I’m trying to convey is confused.
Out of all the bodily movements, you chose circus over, say dance. What drove you to make this choice?
Actually, I really chose more so the clown rather than the circus. A clown dances, laughs, cries, and loves. Everyone has a clown deep down inside, you simply have to know how to let it out.
Would you say that there is a special Jamie Adkins body style?
A Jamie Adkins body style would be a perfectly normal body trying to do atypical things.
Your show is very “low-tech” compared to the possibilities offered today. I’m sure this was a on purpose but why this choice?
I like “low-tech.” Oftentimes in shows, the “high-tech” toys separate the artist from the audience in an artificial way, without really adding to the story. I’m more interested in the juggler than the juggling. I like shows that are full of humanity, the light face of humanity as well as the darker side. I prefer to listen to a good singer play the acoustic guitar in a small room than any big show in an arena, full of lights, special effects, explosions, and songs that are probably on playback. I like to watch human beings be human. But now that I think about it, there’s not a robot in the world that is capable of doing what the human body can do. All the computers in the world together couldn’t achieve the complex calculations that the human brain does with no effort. So, maybe I actually do like the “high-tech.”
The accessories that you use and they way they are used, along with your neutral emotionless expression, evoke Buster Keaton. Would you say he is one of your primary influences?
I wasn’t directly influences by silent cinema, I had already been working for many years when I first saw the classics by the masters of the genre. But, in growing up, I loved to watch Warner Bros. cartoons, Bugs Bunny, Sam the Pirate, etc, and these cartoons were largely influenced by burlesque silent cinema. They stole a number of jokes from silent cinema. So, I was influenced by Chaplin and Keaton via Bugs Bunny.
Did anything else influence your work?
Whatever makes me laugh, love, or cry has directly influenced my comedy.
How do you work? How do you create your different numbers?
If I work for a week and in this week only a single joke, idea, of moment for the show emerges, then I consider it has been a very fruitful week. I invent my numbers primarily thanks to pure improvisation. On stage or in the studio, I subscribe to improvisation, I’ll sometimes do something that surprises me and makes me laugh, so I know I’m onto something and I try to follow the improvisation through to its logical conclusion.
After touring the world, Jamie Adkins will be performing in Paris throughout Summer 2019 at the Théâtre de l'Atelier in the heart of Montmartre. A perfect opportunity to catch a unique show in Paris, language-barrier free and perfect for the whole family!