Friday, February 20, 2009


I just found out that an acquaintance of mine passed away early this morning. James Julien was a great guy. We met at karaoke and became friends through our mutual interest in humanitarianism and our mutual love of putting on a show. He was the founder of Public Outreach and a damn fine showman. Earlier this week, James had suffered a stroke while in Melbourne, Australia. He was told that he would be fine and suffered a second seizure from which he never recovered.

James was an inspiration through his dedication to public fundraising and his work in the non-profit sector and I will miss him.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I've never had a good story for how and why I got into street performing.

My stock interview answer is simply that I had a craptacular part-time job at Starbucks while persuing my undergraduate degree in film production, kinda sorta decided I hated that job, quit dramatically after suffering some cheap shots at the hands of a large corporation and as I was being dragged out by security, said, "I'd make more money and have more dignity working on a street corner!" Which was most likely followed by a string of profanity.

Who knew I was actually correct in that assumption?

The year I graduated from film, I was invited to perform in Kuala Lumpur and had to back out because I was finishing my thesis film. Giving up a great opportunity sucked and I vowed to never do it again after that. I suppose it made me resent film, a subject that while I was particularly inclined towards, was one that started to burn me out. Upon graduation, it didn't make sense for me to wrap cables or get sandwiches on set, so I sort of just opted to continue along a path I had already been walking down.

As I type, it's pretty evident that dignity is the crux of the issue here, which is kind of funny, considering how many people believe street performing to be the lowest art on the totem pole of respectable careers in the arts. But to me, street performing is the ultimate example of freedom. I love the fact that my self-esteem is not wrapped up in whatever figure I may earn in a year, something I've noticed in many people around me who have steady employment. Often people ask me what my 'day job' is. I'm actually quite flattered by that question because it pretty much assumes I'm capable of having one. I love the spontaneity of performing in a public space, how it affects the passersby who stop to watch a show.

I've been lucky in my travels. I've had some amazing experiences in all sorts of countries and met some equally amazing and interesting people. I've hitchhiked with gypsies; gotten into fights that nearly came to blows; been kicked out of a city; gave some really amazing shows; gave some really shitty shows; been detained by kids with guns on festival grounds; and now, heading off to Africa to teach ex-child soldiers to laugh.

I never expected to end up in a fringe industry. It sort of just happened. I have no rational explanation for it: I suppose it just makes the most sense for how I want to live my life. I can't think of a better job right now, truthfully.

So there you have it.
The true history, in all of its entirety.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Waves of Mutilation

Dates are being pushed forward for Sierra Leone; timing issues, funding issues and 'other' issues, which come as no surprise due to the socio-political and economic state of that particular country.


Part of me is relieved to push it, part of me is frustrated. I vacillate between acceptance and intense gut-wrenching fear about this trip and to know that I be experiencing these waves for longer than anticipated is almost torturous in itself. I am pretty lucky to have the people I have around supporting me through this. From an agent who offered to bust me out of any jail I may land in, to my dearest friend on the planet having absolutely no problem letting me call him at 3am to express my anxiety, and a close network of awesome people who refuse to allow my fears to take over my rational thought, suffice to say I'm pretty lucky.

Every time I feel solid and confident about this trip, somebody mentions something about some acquaintance getting mugged, murdered, beaten by gangs or sexually assulted in West Africa. An acquaintance who grew up in the Congo said to me, "You couldn't pay me enough to go back to Sierra Leone." Inevitably, my mind drifts back to, what the fuck am I thinking!?

Already this trip seems to be an exercise in fear-management.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Lunacy Cabaret

Once a month, Zero Gravity Circus holds a variety show at the Centre of Gravity (1300 Gerrard St. E, Toronto) to support Circus Without Borders. Last night was the fullest house I've ever seen! The show boasts entertainers whose skills range from comedy to aerial arts, juggling and clown, mime and burlesque. It is a forum for professionals to try out new material, emerging performing artists to experience a new stage, and everyone else in between with a great variety act to come on down and give it a try. All of the proceeds from this event go towards Circus without Borders, who have raised the funds to send a troupe of 10 performers to Cuba and send me to Sierra Leone, both adventures set for March. If you live in Toronto, Canada, I highly urge you to check out the cabarets, check the website, check out the theatre. It is an amazing resource for circus in the city.

Last night, I also received my donation from Circus Without Borders. I feel very good about the support I'm receiving from my agents: they graciously offered for me to provide them with all of my travel information and offered help should anything go awry. It definitely takes some of the strain off my mind knowing I've got people watching my back. I'v been lucky; ex-military friends giving me practical information about the environment, contacts who have been to Sierra Leone in the past sharing their experiences, a LOT of reading provided by the charity I am working with. Yet I know however prepared I may try to make myself, mentally and emotionally, it will all mean squat when I'm actually in the thick of a war-torn country. I fancy that my experience of performing on the fly and working within a limited construct should give me the ability to think on my toes effectively should any proverbial shit go down while I'm there. I hope!

For the record, though, I do aim to come home safe and sound. Just so you know.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Hello internet.

My name is Kate.

I enjoy the written medium and have kept a personal online journal for quite a long time. I truly began to appreciate blogging on a deeper level last year, when I was performing in Asia. Due to the restrictions of the particular country I was in, I was unable to access my blog while a myriad of bizarre and interesting things occurred around us. It got me thinking about the importance of the individual voice: we certainly live in an exciting time and personal stories often tell history best.

Without being too prosaic about my intentions, I've decided to create a blog here to record my story. I travel the world as a street performer, both on the streets and in festivals, and while I have been actively working for approximately five years I feel as if I am at the beginning stages of my career. I have traveled across Canada, through the US, Europe and Asia performing mime and living statue and hope to branch out this year by involving more skills and building a show, a process that will, no doubt, be entertaining to write about.

At the end of March, through the support of Circus Without Borders, I will be traveling to Sierra Leone, Africa, to teach circus skills to children in orphanages in Freetown and Koidu. I definitely have some fears and reservations about traveling to a country that has only recently gotten itself out of a long and horrific civil war. Sometimes I wonder if what I am doing will have as much of a profound impact as I hope it will. And of course, I wonder if I even have anything to contribute! At any rate, I'm going, I'm documenting the process, and you are more than welcome to read about this and my further adventures.

Thanks for reading and support!

Yours respectfully,