Interview: 'I Feel So Privileged Being Here': Performer Ghislain Ramage on Cirque du Soleil's ALEGRÍA: IN A NEW LIGHT at the Royal Albert Hall

"It's a representation of who we are as humans and what we go through in life."

By: Jan. 24, 2024
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Interview: 'I Feel So Privileged Being Here': Performer Ghislain Ramage on Cirque du Soleil's ALEGRÍA: IN A NEW LIGHT at the Royal Albert Hall

Cirque du Soleil's Alegría: In A New Light has opened to rave reviews. The show is the longest-running show in the company's history, Returning to the Royal Albert Hall for the first time since 2006, this is a version of a 1994 production that has been revamped to "resonate with modern times", hence the addition of In A New Light to the title.

BroadwayWorld sat down with Ghislain Ramage, who performs a Cyr Wheel act in the show. We discussed how he first got involved in the world of Cirque du Soleil, what the show is about and what he hopes audiences take away from the show as a whole.


How did you first get involved with Cirque du Soleil?

It was about fourteen years ago now! 2010, I started working with a show called Zarkana. So I started in Montreal during the creation, and then we opened the show in New York City, in Radio City Music Hall. I got really lucky, because I've never had to audition! [Laughs] They called me in 2010 - I had just graduated from circus school six months prior to that. And that was the start with this long journey. I worked on and off of the company for the past fourteen years and worked on different productions. This is my fourth show. 

Can you tell us a bit about this show in particular? 

Well, I won’t tell you much about the story! But I can tell you that it is a very special show because it's the show that made Cirque du Soleil what it is today. It made the company famous because of what the show was, and that's what Cirque du Soleil is. For me, I grew up watching this show when I was a kid - it was my first DVD I ever got when I was ten years old, so I was watching it all the time! It's a very, very special show for me. But also, this version, even though it's not the first original version, they did a great job at keeping the core of it. It's not a different show - it’s still Alegría. I would say more of a modern version of it.

Cirque du Soleil - Alegria
Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Forker Photography

And what role do you play within the show? 

So I'm currently the Cyr Wheel performer, which is this big ring that you manipulate and spin in. I'm also one of the backup clowns. I just joined the show back in April in Japan, and working on the act, it's never really done. It takes a long time before you can say, “This is the final version of the act.” There's always improvements to be made. And same as the clown! There's been a lot to learn and a lot of trainings and rehearsals. But for now, this is what I do in the show. 

What was it like putting the show on in Japan?

It was really intense! [Laughs] I've heard about the Japan tour for as long as I've been working with this company, and I've always heard that it was really tough.

Really?

Because it's a lot of shows! The first show is pretty early, like 11:30 AM. So for us, you spend the whole day in the tent. It's six months straight in Tokyo! So I heard so much about it, and then I went there and I was like, “Yep, it's not a myth!” [Laughs] 

[Laughs] It’s all true!

It’s all true! But it was amazing. For me, Japan was the only tour that I was missing with Cirque. It's actually funny - the two things that I was missing with my career with Cirque du Soleil was the Japan tour and the Robert Albert  Hall, so I do the two things in the role. It's pretty amazing!

Cirque du Soleil - Alegria
Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Forker Photography

What is it like being in and performing at Royal Albert Hall?

There's no words! I feel so privileged being here. I've performed in really historical and pristine venues like Radio City Music Hall or the Kremlin Theater in Moscow. I felt really grateful to perform in these places. But the Royal Albert Hall has something very different - I feel like the way it's shaped makes a big difference! Like Radio City [Music Hall], for example - it's 6,000 seats, but it's so far away. So when you're on stage, you're like, “I can see the first ten rows, maybe,” but then it's hard to really see the people that are all the way in the back. Here, the way it’s shaped, you're never really far. For us, far from the audience, and the audience, far from the stage. You always have a good vantage point, even if you're in up in the mezzanine.

And it's such an old theatre! So many amazing performers have been performing in this space. I just look at the stage and I cannot even believe that I'm going to be performing a solo on that stage! [Laughs] It still is a little unreal.

What do you hope audiences take away from Alegría?

Alegría is a very powerful show. It is very impressive, but also, it has a lot of contrast. It goes through a lot of different emotions, from power to fluidity and unity in the end, because it's all those groups and characters that come together and create the joy of what Alegría is. It really takes you on a journey through a lot of different emotions - beautiful, more dreamy moments, and really powerful, strong acts. And the clowns, the connection that they have . . . It's funny and beautiful at the same time, because it has a lot of emotions. Not that it's a bad thing, but it's not like the clown that we can imagine at a traditional circus with the big jokes - it’s a bit more than that. It's more of a friendship of two humans.

But there's a lot of layers to the show. And that's what I'm hoping for people to take away when they watch this show, is to feel that you can relate to some of the characters and understand the depth and all the layers of what those characters are bringing to the show, but also to life in general. It's a representation of who we are as humans and what we go through in life.

And finally how would you describe the show in one word?
Joy! I mean, this is what Alegría is. Alegría in Spanish is “joy,” so I don't think there's a better word to describe the show! [Laughs].

Alegría: In A New Light is at the Royal Albert Hall until 3 March

Read our review of Alegría: In A New Light here.




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