A Moment With Liam Klenk
By Liam Klenk
TheatreArtLife was created by the live entertainment and theatre industry for the industry. Our contributors are industry professionals working about the globe on shows and productions. In our “A Moment With” series, we give the opportunity to our contributors to tell their story and share their personal journey working in the entertainment industry.
How did you get started in your career?
My passion for theatre began in a movie theatre in Zurich in 1995. The job of being follow-spot operator for gala premieres fell into my lap. However, back then it never even occurred to me that working in theatre could be a possible profession. Life led me from becoming a photographer, movie theatre manager, presentation designer, hyperbaric chamber operator, and scuba diving instructor to a chance meeting with the head of carpentry at Cirque du Soleil’s Zaia in the Philippine jungle. This is where I first heard about Dragone Entertainment and about the possibility of being an aquatics coach for performers and a show diver.
Photo by Lena Grzegolec
What is the best role/job/gig you have done and why?
The House of Dancing Water was so far the best gig of my life – as well as the most intensive life experience I’ve ever had. It was positively life-changing. Being able to combine my passion for teaching scuba and aquatic performer techniques with my passion for theatre and the arts was a real treat. Working with individuals from 30 different countries was a steep learning curve. Being part of a large show family was a privilege. What a wonderful feeling to belong to a big team like that and together strive for perfection on stage every night, no matter what. It was also incredibly tough for me. I am not a political person, so a big corporate show environment was a challenge. Navigating the backstage political landscape often drove me to mental exhaustion. But it also made me tougher, clearer-headed, more professional, and more forgiving. Last but not least, working as an aquatics coach, underwater stage hand, and underwater stage manager was invigorating. I love being able to work in the water, hidden from the audience, but delivering the magic.
Photo by Janusz Ciechowski
What was the worst task you were given when you were starting out?
During the first three months at The House of Dancing Water, the aquatics team was assigned to help with the construction of the theatre pool. Without water and performers in the house, the whole theatre seemed more like Star Wars’ Death Star than a living, breathing, soulful place of magic. Three months in utter blackness, construction lifts beeping everywhere, days blurring into each other in a cloud of plaster- and chem-grate dust. When we finally filled the pool with water and the performers gave soul to the stage, I breathed a sigh of relief.
Photo by Liam Klenk
What do you think is your best skill?
My social competence, and capacity for understanding and compassion. It makes me an excellent teacher and coach. My students underwater – be they performers or recreational scuba divers – know they can trust me completely. I am a people person and manage to reach through to people even when sometimes others can’t.
What do other people think is your best skill?
Most people I know will agree with social competence being my best skill. They also value my organisational and administrative talents, language and writing skills.
What advice would you give your 18-year old self?
To experience as much as possible, live all over the world, meet people from all kinds of different backgrounds, and keep an open mind. Pretty much still the same advice I actually did give myself when I was 18. It’s served me well ever since.
What is your job now?
In my day job I currently work as a presentation designer and translator for a management consulting company. My main job is writing, however. I published my first book in 2016 and hope to write quite a few more in the years to come.
This year, I hope to find far more time to work on my second book. Also regarding my day job, changes will come and nothing is impossible.