Step 4 Circus – A Movement Towards Positive Change
By Liam Klenk
I think we can all agree: so far this has been one hell of a year. Almost the entire entertainment industry is at a standstill. No one knows when we will be able to perform again in front of an audience. Many have lost their jobs from one moment to the next as more and more shows were shut down. And now, just recently, even Dragone Entertainment has closed their show ‘The House of Dancing Water’ in Macau until January 2021, and Cirque du Soleil has filed for bankruptcy – giants many of us had looked towards with hope.
I am a stage manager and have now been unemployed since March.
I’m homeless and broke as well and have been couch surfing for months with nowhere to turn to. As spring turned into summer, as the global situation got worse rather than better, and as it increasingly looked as if no shows were going to re-employ people until 2021, I began to wonder…
I needed to take charge, stop feeling helpless and depressed, turn this potentially dire situation into something positive. Turn lemons into lemonade, or, rather, take this enforced downtime, this uncertainty, and take a step.
Long story short, I decided to tackle part of the E4 European Long-Distance Path. I will attempt to walk 3,500 km from Brugg in Switzerland to Odemira in Portugal. Get those feet and thoughts moving. Take it day by day, step by step, write from the road (applications as well), and walk towards uncertainty with blisters on my feet, but sunshine in my mind.
I felt better as soon as I decided to take a step. Then, I thought, “Wait a minute. This can be the beginning of something bigger than me. Something important that can bring us all together.”
I began thinking of ways in which hiking can help the circus community (which has been my home for the last twelve years). Anna Robb (good old friend, esteemed colleague, and founder of TheatreArtLife) and I got to talking. Soon, we were joined by Leisha Knight, circus coach and avid hiker from Las Vegas. And, our questions were, “What can we do? What is our next step? When will we take to the stage again? What is our road map? What can we do to spark positive change?”
Et voila, let us introduce to you: Step 4 Circus!
Step 4 Circus is a non-profit fundraising initiative to get circus professionals back to work. It will begin with my first steps in the Swiss Alps… but soon, I hope, your steps will join mine across the globe and, we might not actually move mountains but we’ll joyfully tackle and conquer them – step by step.
All funds raised will go to employing circus professionals to run workshops for social circus organizations in places such as Nepal, China, Thailand, and Africa etc.
Small social circus organizations around the world have been doing an incredible job over these last few decades. Circus Kathmandu, to name just one example, has been freeing Nepalese children who had been sold as slaves to circuses in neighboring countries. These talented, young performers were brought back home to Nepal and given a chance to re-claim their lives, to develop their talents in a safe environment.
Imagine, being able to raise funds to be able to continue to support social circus organizations like Circus Kathmandu throughout this pandemic. And imagine, at the same time, being able to support each other, by creating jobs in our industry, by using the funds raised to send talented and experienced performers to give workshops for social circus communities around the world.
Not to mention that working together towards a common goal and getting out there, taking a step, in this time of limbo that will give us all a spark of hope.
How can you participate?
• You can donate to our Step 4 Circus GoFundMe page.
• You can register to [email protected] and begin your own hike to support our cause. Share our GoFundMe page on all your social media, and follow our Step 4 Circus Facebook group. Add your stories from on the road.
• You can apply to be a circus workshop facilitator! Consider it a virtual audition! Make your case as to why you should be chosen to run a Step 4 Circus workshop. Applications to be sent to [email protected]
• You can apply as a social circus organization to receive our workshop facilitators. Email [email protected] to begin the conversation.
• For corporate sponsorship, email [email protected]
Join us in helping the circus community get back on their feet after COVID-19. Note, if travel restrictions prolong engagements overseas we will look for workshop opportunities for our circus professionals locally.