BWW Interview: Lauren Herley And Jennifer Lecuyer of BAZZAR - CIRQUE DU SOLEIL
Cirque du Soleil, ("Circus of the Sun") with over 5,000 people in their crew, is a Quebecer entertainment company and the largest theatrical producer in the world. Based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and located in the inner-city area of Saint-Michel, it was founded in Baie-Saint-Paul on 7 July 1984, by two former street performers, Guy Laliberté and Gilles Ste-Croix.
Bazzar is Cirque du Soleil's 43rd original production since 1984 and a touring show that premiered on 14th of November 2018 in Mumbai, India. It is Cirque's 43rd production inspired by the colorful and chaotic grand Indian Bazzar, and their first show to perform in India.
The show is brought to you by Alchemy Project Entertainment in association with Qatar National Tourism Council and hosted by Katara Hospitality, sponsored by Staybridge Suites Doha Lusail, Ooredoo and supported by STK and Sel & Miel restaurants.
Tickets are available online ONLY & EXCLUSIVELY at : www.TixBox.qa
Check our delightful interview below with the leading lady, Floating Woman portrayed by Lauren Herley and the artistic director Jennifer Luceyer;
Onur A: Welcome to Doha, how do you like it?
Lauren: I have had a nice time. We had some time off when the tent was getting a set up and getting transferred from Oman to here. I found some nice discoveries in the Pearl, there are lovely studios here and I did some teaching and training there. It was very nice. I find the food here very good.
Jennifer: I didn't have as much time as Lauren did. Things go extremely fast in tours so we don't really get to see much but we did a media shoot with some of our talented dancers and acrobats in the shows. We visited amazing museums.
L: I visited the Museum of Islamic Art.
J: And I visited the one that has sand sculptures which is shaped naturally.
L: And there is also Qatar Museum.
J: Beautiful architecture, they were all amazing.
O: Before we move into questions about production, would you like to tell us about yourself? How you started your career, how did you start with working in Cirque du Soleil and everything else?
L: For me, I started my ballet classes when I was six years old and from there I transitioned to competitive artistic gymnastics but continued bar trainings in ballet. Until the age of seventeen, I was focused on those. Then, I transitioned to circus. I moved to San Francisco and Montreal. I graduated from a school there; school of artist for circus. Immediately after that I started touring internationally.
J: I am coming from a figure-skating background and moved to the dancing. From dance I moved to aerial arts and started working as aerial dancer. As an artist, you have to keep planning on your next steps so in the last few years I was taking a step back from the stage and signing contracts for aerial directing. From one contract to another; I ended up with the Bazzar with incredible artists and technicians.
O: Great story! Speaking of Bazzar, it was premiered on 14th of November, 2018 in Mumbai, India as the first Cirque du Soleil show in India. If we will rewind back to your memories of the date; how was your experience?
L: It's so funny that I was thinking about it today because I shared a picture and expressed how butterflies were fluttering, so many butterflies. I did a lot of international premiers in my career but Bazzar was highly special. We were taking something back to its roots; we were going back its very source which the show was created of including being in a country Cirque du Soleil has never been. I took a lot of element of courage for the team. It was so special and gave me a lot of nerves but only the good ones. It was emotional and awesome.
J: The crowd there too... Every single night was full, full, full. The reaction as well was so loud and sincere. We had such great audiences, so I believe that the audience was fed by watching the show and artists on the stage was fed in return by their reactions. It was a beautiful experience.
O: We wish to ask Lauren a bit of her character who is childlike, pure and a little bit of curiosity added into the mix; how do you find yourself in her?
L: I think sometimes you get cast for a role if the directors say that she'll be able to tap into this character or sometimes they see elements of the character which you have already. I think I got the part because both of these reasons; because I really have to tap into this floating woman character and have to leave me ego aside. As I tapped into her world, I fell in love and got to rediscover her every night. Also, Jennifer as our artistic director; gives me fresh and awoke moments that I don't realize which are sincere, strong and beautiful. She tells me; oh this will work! Which makes me realize I can go further in that direction. Actually my director gave a note to me about floating woman describing her as a sensual doll. Doll part is covered by the make-up design for her which is kind of childlike but on the other hand, she wants to be sensual which requires to be grounded and knowing her capabilities as a woman. In the meantime, having a heart of a kid and trusting in people and things by allowing her body to be swept away by the power and emotion.
J: I feel that Lauren has done a continuous research for the character by adding details and trying new things all the time which allowed character to grow so much and have many facades including having a big contribution to the performance.
O: Amazing. Actually this brings me to my other question and this one is for you Jennifer; it is abundantly clear that Cirque du Soleil has a slightly different type of performance understanding than which we know as a stage performance such as theater or musical. Considering the difference of the experience as well what do you think is your artistic perspective of the show?
J: It is important to keep the directors' visions all the time. During the process of the creation, you cannot answer all the questions about the show. It has to live in time and space so we can figure out the past and answer the questions. My job is to remember the words of our show director and be honest of what show has to say. I am not putting my vision in it but looking at the bigger picture to see what works best for the show, for the seed, the center of the show. After that I feel more confident of bringing ideas forward. It is not about what I think but what serves the best. Then we have discussions with the artists such as yes, I saw it but it made me think of another thing, let's try that. During the time I try to be completely honest; my suggestion doesn't have to be the best option all the time, of course. That's why we have our long discussions which makes us grow into it.
O: Great ambience to work in. We'll proceed with very common question; what is your favorite character and scene of the show?
L: That's hard! It is impossible to select one character from the show because they all add up to create Bazzar as what it is. I can't say any of the characters but there are some of my favorite moments from the show are my interactions and eye contacts I get to make for a moment as I pop out of the box. I get to make eye contact with other characters and it takes me to the point of here and now. It gets me to a point where I can actually play with my team. It is not just some choreography but I feel the oh, yes! These are some of the moments that I really connect with somebody and it becomes a real play on the stage rather than directions of stand there, look there.
O: And what about yours?
J: I cannot select any of the characters but guess that I appreciate the parts grown with a lot of details. There are quite a few of those moments in the show and keep adding a new one everyday even just yesterday, Lauren and I were discussing of a transition and we found what was going to work so well. As a specific example of a moment with layers of details; in the act we have a scene with one of our musicians and he is really interacting with main characters. At first he was just present without theatrical attributes. Then we developed him with our main character, Maestro who is portrayed by Steven. It turned out to be a big part of the show. Now to think of it if we hadn't had him; it wouldn't work. We would make it work but it wouldn't be the same as it is now. We would miss the affection. There are many moments like that in the show with various characters. Some of the dancers have taken over and developed the roles and if they wouldn't, we would have missed those moments.
L: Also it is part of Jennifer's job. She has a great instinct as an artistic director and she sees those fine details that often cause huge difference over time, on the quality of the show. These are the things that the audience will never know that we spent hours on but that's makes them have the wow effect and moved by the show.
O: So true, details are the heart of the show.
O: What do you think the audience should expect from the show? What should they be discovering about the themselves and the show?
L: We should keep some secrets! They should come for an experience for themselves, of course. On the other hand, what is special about Bazzar is we are high energized individuals. We go something important to say, each and every one of us and making sure the audience can feel that until the very end. The audience should expect to be swept away.
O: Only leaving the prospective audience with more curiosity! Considering that you have been to Mumbai, Delhi, Abu Dhabi, Muscat and Doha; where do you think the show will take you next?
L: Oh la la!
J: Where are we going? Well, we know that our next city is Beirut. We are staying in the Mediterranean region. We have our eyes on Turkey as well. The goal of the Bazzar is to bring the Cirque du Soleil to bring the circus to the places where they have never been. If you heard of a country where the Cirque du Soleil been before, chances are you won't be seen us there! We are breaking boundaries and going in to uncharted territories for the Cirque du Soleil to make people discover the beauty of the circus. That's one of the reasons why this is such an exciting tour. We'll be able to be in countries which we have never been as well and we have such an eclectic group of people. We are a beautiful family going into new places.
O: Do you have anything to add for our lovely readers?
J: Keep an open mind and just join our adventure; this is a very family friendly show ad everybody is welcomed in our tent. As I mentioned; this is a multicultural group of people and every one is welcomed. They will love it here.
L: We like it full, having to share it a tent full of people.
L: As in Abu Dhabi, it was full every night and people let themselves to fulfill the experience the most. We engaged with the eye contacts and everything. The more, the better.
J: We have seven more opportunities to enjoy the experience together. We are so ready to welcome them.
O: I'll make sure everyone I know to see this show.
J: Thank you!
O: Thank you for having me and for your time. Break a leg.
J & L: It was very nice meeting you as well.
It would be one of the biggest mistakes to miss this well-fabricated, heartedly performed, mesmerizing performance!