Paris circus L'Immédiat has North American premiere in Whitehorse

An acclaimed and unusual circus troupe from Paris has chosen an unlikely spot for its North American debut.

'I've never seen anything quite like it,' says Yukon Arts Centre artistic director

L'Immediat performers arrived in Whitehorse with a shipping container full of 13,000 props. It takes days to set up the first performance and about six hours to set up for each subsequent performance. (CBC)

An acclaimed and unusual circus troupe from Paris has chosen an unlikely spot for its North American debut — Whitehorse.

L'Immédiat has won acclaim in Europe for its unique mix of acrobatics, mime and slapstick comedy. The troupe opens a three-night run at the Yukon Arts Centre on Wednesday.

The wordless performance "is not easy to describe," said Eric Epstein, the centre's artistic director.

"It does involve physical feats, but more maybe like a set of accidents," Epstein said. "It's a play, it's a spectacle.

"To have it here, to have them performing their North American premiere of such a brilliant and beautiful show, it's just a thrill."

'It's an opportunity to see something that has a true kind of theatrical magic about it,' said Eric Epstein, artistic director at the Yukon Arts Centre. (CBC)

The seven-person group doesn't travel light. They arrived with a shipping container packed with boxes of props and set pieces — 13,000 items in total. It took a dozen people to unload it all, Epstein said, and each performance requires about six hours of set-up time.

"There's 14 people working on making everything happen, and there's so many tiny little projects everywhere, in every corner of the theatre going on," Epstein said.

"I've never seen anything quite like it."

'To see the North'

Camille Boitel, the show's creator and one of the performers, said the decision to come to Whitehorse "was like a joke in the beginning."

Camille Boitel, creator of L'Immediat, describes the performance as something 'between dreams and real life.' (CBC)

He said the group wanted to see the North, but wasn't sure how to make it happen. They were scheduled to perform at Vancouver's PuSh festival in February, and that's when they got in touch with Epstein.

"We just said 'I really want to go to the North. And we didn't know why the North, but now we know," Boitel said, adding that some of the performers hitchhiked to Haines Junction and Dawson City.

"We met a lot of great people." 

After Whitehorse and Vancouver, there will be only two other North American stops — Montreal, and New York City.

Then, Boitel says, a bonfire.

After six years of touring, the performers are ready to quit. Boitel said the only way to do that is to destroy the props.

"So we will burn everything, with the audience looking at it. It will be like a ritual."

L'Immédiat: A Paris Circus plays at the Yukon Arts Centre on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m.


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