The Québecois may be known for their consumption and production of that French fries, gravy and cheese curd concoction known as poutine, but on the somewhat healthier lifestyle side, they are also known for producing some of the best cirque artists in the world.
Besides birthing that sunnier cirque that has made its way to the big top – including a few Vegas resorts – la belle province has produced other companies that have taken human theatrics and acrobatic feats to a whole new level.
One of those is Québec’s Cirque Alfonse.
Known for their aerial acrobatics, agility and strength, as well as juggling such implements as axes and saws, Cirque Alfonse arrives in Vernon next Tuesday with its lumberjack-themed show, Timber!
“Timber! is set in 1940s before logging became mechanized and features men (all sporting beards) who juggle axes and do other lumberjack feats. The show is scored by a live band playing French-Canadian folk music,” said Erin Kennedy, artistic director at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre.
Inspired by a bygone era of logging and farming, Timber! is set in a lumber camp where beards, muscles, checked lumberjack shirts and long johns abound as the company juggles and chops vegetables at high speed for the family stew pot.
“You can almost smell the fresh-cut pine logs as you’re drawn into a festive night of jigs, jiving and incredible acrobatics,” said Kennedy.
“Everything in Timber is inspired by the natural raw materials of the forest and equipment from the first North American lumberjacks, loggers and farmers.”
Established in 2005, Cirque Alfonse hails from the small town of Saint-Alphonse-Rodriguez, and have fashioned unusual acrobatic contraptions out of tools and materials found on their real-life family farm.
The troupe is comprised of professional acrobats Antoine Carabinier Lépine, Arthur Casaubon, Jonathan Casaubon and Francis Roberge, who are graduates from the École nationale de cirque de Montréal as well as the École de cirque de Québec.
Timber! also includes a professional dancer (Julie Carabinier-Lépine), an ex-skiing champion (Alain Carabinier) and three talented versatile musicians (Josianne Laporte, André Gagné and David Simard).
“Their founding members have all worked with some of the most renowned nouveau cirque companies around the world,” said Kennedy.
Taking authenticity to new heights, when members of Cirque Alfonse rehearsed in their unheated Québecois barn, they sawed wood as a warm-up to their rehearsals.
“Staying true to their roots, the axes, saws and knives used in the show are genuine and sharpened and the cast doesn’t wear any protection other than gloves,” said Kennedy.
Cirque Alfonse’s Timber! takes to the stage at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre April 5 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $40 for adults, $37 for seniors, and $35 for students. Call the Ticket Seller box office at 250-549-SHOW (7469) or order online at www.ticketseller.ca.