Theatre | Out of the Light: Cirque du Soleil's Quidam


After global success, Cirque du Soleil’s Quidam comes to Ireland, writes Kate Rothwell.

Canadian entertainment company Cirque du Soleil have a reputation like no other. Over more than twenty years their shows have toured the world, performing a unique mix of circus and theatre to great acclaim. This Spring, Quidam will be performed in Dublin’s O2, a venue which artistic director Richard Dagenais describes as “perfect for us”.

Quidam celebrates, according to Dagenais “that anonymous passer-by that we either are or cross in the street and don’t necessarily pay attention to but has dreams, expectations.”

This is represented by the character of Zoe, a young girl at the centre of the show who finds herself in the world of Quidam and its curious inhabitants. Of course the show provides much more than a regular piece of theatre. “You’ve got the acrobatic acts, the clowning, the circus acts all intertwined in to the story.”

Quidam has been labelled as being darker than than most Cirque du Soleil performances, but Dagenais sees it only as different. “I wouldn’t call it darker in the sense of heaviness. There’s a depth to the approach, a much more human approach to the emotion that Quidam is trying to portray or communicate to the public… the themes go a little bit deeper in it I think.”

“You’ve got the acrobatic acts, the clowning, the circus acts all intertwined in to the story”

The workload for any Cirque du Soleil performer is intense, but Quidam’s main protagonist is a young girl, so there are the needs of a child actor to be considered whilst touring and rehearsing. “We make sure that they are well taken care of. For the main role we have two little girls so they alternate during the week. We feed them well, they have physios on tour, they have school, they have their parents there with them.”

Such support is vital as Quidam runs for long periods of time in various countries, after Dublin the show will spend eight weeks touring the UK before jetting off to Brazil for “a bit of a run over there”.

Finding performers, childern otherwise, who are up to the high standards of Cirque de Soleil is a careful and selective process, especially when shows like Quidam have been running for more than a decade. “We have a casting department that will basically scout the world. They have a great knowledge of the different profiles of each one of the roles in our show and they do auditions, scouting at festivals and competitions and will present to me the different candidates when a position opens.”

Quidam is not just aimed at the visionary senses, but also the aural. A live soundtrack incorporates various genres of music and features keyboards, guitars, cello, violin, drums , saxophone and singing from some of the performers. The inclusion of a band has not only atmospheric but practical qualities for the show, as Dagenais points out.

“They add texture, they add colour and they’re able to follow the action and react really quickly… if there’s a little technical problem or somebody is out of step… the music is able to follow you and build it up”.

An all round experience for lovers of theatre, music and acrobatics alike – it’s time to get your tickets, the circus is coming to town.

See Quidam at the O2 March 31st to April 5th 2009.