Interviewing Nicolas Fortin, trampolinist, juggler and master of ceremonies, and Anaïs Favron, comedian and improv performer.
TOHU: What is the Impro Cirque for you?
Nicolas Fortin: I am the instigator, so represents a lot! Since its creation in 2009, we have improved the concept with less restrictive themes, which better emphasizes on the artists and live musicians (Wonder-Trois-Quatre band) and certainly adds to the show. As the master of ceremonies, I lead the game without acting in it. But I do perform during intermission.
Anaïs Favron: I’m a very physical comedian—I also did gymnastics—, so for me, it’s an opportunity to combine my love for the circus, my interest for the physical aspect of the game and my passion for improv.
TOHU: What kind of challenge does it represent in your respective fields?
Nicolas Fortin: For circus artists, accustomed to split-second precise performances, it’s really stressful. The challenge is the fear of throwing themselves into the unknown, and in front of an audience above all, without anything set up or rehearsed. They have to think outside of the box.
Anaïs Favron: As there is only one comedian per team, I’m in charge of script development. I’m sort of the “master of words”. My challenge is to accompany my circus teammates, support them, provide them with a context and a narrative, a beginning, an ending.
TOHU: What advice would the comedian give the circus artists, and vice versa?
Anaïs Favron: I would tell the circus artists not to think about the performance, and trust themselves. The magical moment always comes after what was planned, when we no longer know what’s about to happen. Improv is very beneficial: we learn to be bold, to better deal with flops. An improv didn’t take off? So what! We stop thinking about it and start over. Improv teaches us to overcome those worries and always look forward.
Nicolas Fortin: I would tell the comedians to play the game, not to be overwhelmed by the performances, even though they can be very impressive when performed 5 inches from your nose! They should go towards the circus artists and play along, even if they don’t have their physical capacities. They should bring the performances to their level: you can’t do a triple flip? Try doing a tumble! The performers and the audience love seeing a “non-circus” artist trying things (laughs)!
TOHU : What does the Impro Cirque bring to the audience?
Nicolas Fortin: First, they will see some of the best circus artists in the world, in a close proximity they’re not used to. It’s an evening that encompasses many elements: improv, circus, music, sports, competition, dance, theatre… it’s impossible not to find something they like!
Anaïs Favron: What’s extraordinary is that they get to witness a creation in its raw state. There’s concentration, danger due to technical elements, pure acting, adrenalin. It’s an exciting evening for players as well as spectators. It’s short-lived… something we’ll never see again. The kind of magical moments that has us say: “you had to be there”.
Interview reported and edited by Anne-Marie Desbiens