I had seen pictures of the creations from French company Transe Express, the “Inventors of Imagination”, with their giant mobile constructions high in the air, extraordinary light shows and acrobatics, but nothing could have prepared me for my experience with them last weekend in Truro, Cornwall.
As a Drama student specialising in European Street Theatre next year, my internship with ZAP ART has been invaluable and Sky Garden was the icing on the cake, as my role was to assist the French company throughout their experience in Truro. For Hall for Cornwall, this was the first piece of street theatre they had hosted, a premiere for Truro and, with its sixteen month planning schedule, a lot was riding on this performance.
Saturday was an early start at Lemon Quay, the location for the piece, bang in the centre of this small, picturesque Cornish city. Sharing our pitch with a weekly farmers’ market, the company’s reherasal whipped up a flurry of intrigue among Truro’s locals, chewing on their pasties, staring wide-eyed in to a sky that offered spider-legged machinery and fervent French musicians with their drums and xylophones rending the Cornish air…and this was only the reahearsal !
During the day, Jane- a trapeze artist from Swamp Circus- got the opportunity to have a discussion with Kati, Transe Express’ trapeze artist. Jane said she found the discussion extremely helpful in terms of professional development and general tips about the industry.
Then 9pm, the performance came at last, beganing with a drumming procession through the 10,000 people who had gathered at the Quay to see the event. The six drummers, led by Leo, the musical maestro with her whistle, created an almost carnival atmosphere with Kati, the cheeky little trapeze artist having her own adventures : running off to smell some shrubbery or standing and saluting next to a police officer ! The company snaked through the crowds, the streets their playground, pausing to perform a song every now and again at various stops (including the fish and chip shop !) until they mounted their structure and it was time for take- off.
As they rose higher and higher, illuminated by the lights, the xylophones’ ringing out, Kati hanging down from her trapeze, ‘WOW’ was the word coming from the audience. It was the sort of thing you only see in dreams or your imagination. At the end of the performance, the company dropped thousands of pieces of confetti onto the audience, showering them with colour. As they descended, a huge fireworks display began, ending the show with a bang ! As the company left the Quay, beating their drums as they went, the crowds cheered and thanked them profusely.
Everyone was delighted with the show, producers, audience members and the company alike ! One member of the audience declared, ‘Truly amazing !! If you weren’t there tonight to see Sky Garden just make up your own superlatives and you WON’T be overstating their talents !’
Tim Brinkman from Hall for Cornwall was equally enthusiastic, ‘ To see so many people on Lemon Quay, stretching up the surrounding streets to see what must have been the “I was there” event of 2010 in Cornwall. The atmosphere was fantastic with so many people in the same place having a once in a lifetime experience that will be talked about for ages to come.” Allez Transe Express !