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Blog: Behind the scenes of As a Tiger in the Jungle with producer Ali Williams

Ahead of our forthcoming performances of As a Tiger in the Jungle we caught up with producer Ali Williams to learn more about the incredible international collaboration that has brought together acclaimed circus talent from across Europe and Asia.

Where did the inspiration for As a Tiger in the Jungle come from?

From the stories of our performers Aman and Renu who were sold by their parents and trafficked into Indian circus. They spent a large part of their childhood as slaves in Indian circus. They were rescued and now are working as contemporary circus artists in Kathmandu. This show highlights the issue of modern day slavery but is also a celebration of freedom

The show is an international collaboration – can you tell us more about your creative relationship with Cirkus Xanti?

Sverre Waage, the director of Norwegian Cirkus Xanti came to Kathmandu while I was on sabbatical from nofitstate. I spent a year working in Nepal to develop a group of young ex-circus slaves into a contemporary circus outfit. We decided then that these young people had such an incredible story that we’d have to tell it. First we brought 12 members of the group to perform in the circus village in Norway and at Glastonbury festival in 2014, and since then we have been working together to create and produce the performance.

Life, love, poverty, greed – the show explores some pretty big themes – how did you approach tackling these through circus and movement?

We have used a narrator who is an English speaking actress to help us tell their story, But, the story itself is about their lives in the circus so it is easy to use circus as an authentic performance language in the show

What were the biggest challenges in bringing the show to the stage? What aspect(s) of the production are you most proud of?

One of the biggest challenges of working with Nepali artists is the need for visas to bring them to work in the UK. It’s a stressful process and they have been refused entry before. We have to apply for Uk and EU visas so that they can tour the show. The process is complicated, costs a lot and is very stressful.

Making the show has been a long journey as we had to get to know the artists very well before they began to open up and be honest about their quite shocking childhoods and what happened to them. It was important to find out their truths in order to be able to make an honest performance.

Finally, what can audiences expect from the show?
Our audiences absolutely love the show and we often get a standing ovation. The subject matter is grim but it’s told in a fairytale style with a tiger used as a metaphor for the human trafficker. It is highly skilled with some great circus and it’s a very emotional piece. It is full of beautiful visual images and has a wonderful soundtrack of European/Asian fusion music.

Cirkus Xanti & Ali Williams Productions present As a Tiger in the Jungle on Friday 17 & Saturday 18 May

Please note: Friday night’s performance of As a Tiger in the Jungle has now SOLD OUT, so advance booking for Saturday is advised.
Book now: https://stratford-circus.com/event/as-a-tiger-in-t...