Cirque du Soleil’s newest stage spectacular OVO (‘egg’ in Portuguese), takes audiences into a colourful ecosystem teeming with life, where insects work, eat, crawl, flutter, play and fight on stage.
Openly gay former Olympic trampoliner Lee Brearley, who plays a cricket in the show, told the Star Observer that getting into character had presented some challenges for him.
“During the creation of OVO I looked up videos of crickets on YouTube, but to my surprise I found all the videos completely boring — crickets don’t really do anything at all!” he said.
“But this actually provided a great lesson for my character on stage — less is more.
“Like a cricket, I use small strategic movements mixed with a lot of pauses. This gets the crowd wondering and guessing my next movements, so when it’s time to leap it creates a surprise. A fair few times I’ve made audience members scream.”
Brearley, who is looking forward to returning to Australia with Cirque for the first time since he competed in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, said he was constantly polishing his skills for the show.
He is part of an act that features some 20 performers running, jumping and walking across — and straight up — an eight-metre vertical wall without artificial support.
“As I’ve been doing trampolining since the age of eight, certain aspects of my act came very naturally, but the skill of wall-walking is something that needs training for all trampolinists,” he admitted.
“We are used to jumping up and down rather than diagonally off our backs to run up a wall. Like all jobs, it can place a burden, both mentally and physically.
“On the days when this [negative] feeling is the greatest, I remind myself why I’m here — I am a performer whose job is to entertain. Even on a bad day, I will always find fun in being on stage, especially when I’m leaping onto trampolines from a giant climbing wall.”
Brearley’s secondary role in the show is a solo act he developed from scratch — the ‘Creatura’ (human slinky), in which he manipulates a huge four-limbed slinky costume.
Brearley is one of four openly gay acrobats in the cast of OVO. With the diverse cast and crew drawn from different cultures from around the world — some more tolerant than others — he said he felt like something of a queer ambassador.
“Many of the other acrobats have had their eyes opened in living in such close proximity to us. We don’t hide ourselves just to keep them feeling comfortable.
“We actually end up educating a lot of people we work with and in the end they gain us as great friends.”
INFO: Cirque du Soleil, OVO, national tour starts July 14 in Brisbane. www.cirquedusoleil.com/ovo