The Street Performance World Championship returns to dublin this July 19-22, transforming Merrion Square Park into the home of the weird, the wonderful and the downright insane. Dublin’s inexplicable fascination with all things bizarre and visually enticing resulted in nearly 240,000 attendees last year, making the SPWC the biggest and most popular festival after St. Patrick’s Day.
This year’s highlights include the tattooed Lizard Man, a human cannonball and La Clique’s Mario, Queen of the Circus. Totally Dublin caught up with three of the festival’s most unique performers
Gary Stocker – Human Cannonball
How fast are you shot out of the cannon? Can you feel some sort of G-force?
No, it is not that fast, because we are performing in quite an enclosed circle, obviously we cant fire at huge velocities so there’s nothing too dangerous about it.
How many times have put yourself in hospital?
So far, the suit has caught on fire. There is a smoke machine in the barrel for effect, and my safety team didn’t realise that there was a real problem. They thought I was still performing, I was screaming “No get me out of here!” That was the first prototype of the cannon, it is fixed now and shouldn’t happen again.
What’s the last thing that goes through your mind before you are fired into the air?
Um, genuine fear. I would like to change my mind and say ‘I don’t want to do it.’ It’s that same feeling when you climb all the way to the top of a really tall diving board, and you get the top and think “actually, I think I’ll go back.” But there’s so many people on the ladder that would totally embarrass yourself so you have to do it.”
Reuben Dot Dot Dot – Acrobat & Contortionist
You’ve performed with Cirque du Soleil, how was that?
It was pretty amazing. It is a full circle for me because I learned the skills of Chinese polls firstly to do on the street from watching Cirque du Soleil videos called Saltimbanco. Then I paid to go to traditional circus school in China and then it came full circle after I finished and I’d worked in a couple of other circus’. Cirque saw my stuff and hired me for the show that I originally taught myself from, so that was really fun to be on the stage in a show that I’ve seen hundreds of times and go ‘Wow, I’m actually doing this show.’
What can we expect to see at the show in Dublin?
I’m doing an acrobatic street show with lots of really stupid stunts and really stupid skills. My main disciplines are hand balancing and Chinese polls so lots of balancing on one hand and pulling myself into contorted positions while spinning. Then acrobatics on a 15 foot pole, so really stupid high danger stuff that’s scary for me but wonderful for everyone else.
Lisa Lottie – Hula Hoop & Contortionist
You have performed in 29 countries in over 100 cities. What was your favourite place to perform?
I have a lot of favourite places to perform, it is very hard to pick one but one of my favourite countries to perform in is Germany because I feel German people are trained very well to watch and enjoy performances. I’m always extra excited whenever I go to Germany.
There is a good deal of gymnastics involved in your acts. Tell me a bit about the comedy contortion act?
In my street show, I have a very comic part where I get two of my audience members to come on stage and help me to bend and twist my body into some very interesting shapes. That’s just my warm up. I’ve been practicing flexibility ever since I started to hula hoop. I started out doing Yoga, then I obsessively started stretching my body to make sure I was as flexible as I could be.
What kind of show can we expect at the SPWC?
It is going to be my street show ‘Bend It Like Barbie.’ This is the street show I’ve performed all over the world. It’s a forty-five minute show with lots of talking, lots of funny jokes, lots of really great music. One of my best routines with lots of great hula hoop tricks and the finale is me doing ‘The most dangerous hula hoop trick in the world’, that’s what I like to call it. I balance on one foot, seven feet in the air with five hula hoops around 5 different body parts.