Vincent Dubé’s debut company Machine de Cirque brings the audience in on the risk
Mention circus to many people, and they might think of colorful tents and clowns. But a new type of theatrical circus has emerged: these shows take traditional circus acts like the see-saw, juggling, and high-flying stunts, and repackage them in a slick, more contemporary frame—without the circus animals.
Now comes, a brand new Québécois company under the direction of Vincent Dubé. The company’s first show brings together four exciting young acrobats, a versatile musician, an array of props, and even “machines” for a funny and heartfelt experience.
In between rehearsals for the company’s premiere in Quebec City in May, Dubé took a few moments to talk about circus in Quebec, the importance of story-telling in circus, and how a company of performers works together to create something exciting and new.
Montreal, and Quebec in general, has an incredible amount of new circus activity, the “nouveau cirque” as it is sometimes called. How did you form your company, and what makes your company unique?
VINCENT DUBÉ: A lot of modern circus right now is very polished, and I wanted Machine de Cirque to be very raw. We want the audience to see the personality of each artist and the mechanics of the show.
We integrate an on-stage musician very closely into the show—he is even included in the circus acts. For example, in the juggling act, he plays drums with clubs, and he throws and catches them while keeping the beat. It’s very fun and exciting. We’re exploring a unique use of the musician figure, and I think that will be part of our company’s signature going forward.
And finally, engineering and machines are an important part of our show. It’s not large-scale engineering and stage designs, but very intimate. The concept is that we recycle old objects and machines and reuse them on a human scale.
So the “machine” in Machine de Cirque has something to do with that engineering?
Yes! I like technology and engineering, and that’s what led us to that name. There are some machines in the show, but I also think that the name is great for us because the human being, especially the circus artist, is such an amazing machine. If you try to create a mechanical machine as precise as some of the human athletes we have, it will never be as exact. These performers are really amazing.