Quirky circus performer Thomas Monckton is in Melbourne right now in partnership with Circo Aereo performing his solo show ‘The Pianist’. This contemporary physical theatre piece is set to wow audiences with its hysterical mime style of comedy, and physical feats. I recently chatted to the talented Mr Monckton about his attraction to clowning, working as a solo artist, and how the circus scene compares in Paris. Read on to get a lovely insight into the inner workings of a contemporary mime.
How did you get involved in theatre, and why were you attracted to clowning in particular?
I did some acting stuff in high school but wasn’t very good at it, but I liked being on stage. Anyway, I learned to juggle at about 8 years old and through that I discovered circus. It was a revelation because pre-circus I was under the impression that the only physical activity humans were capable of was rugby. I like laughter. You can establish a very clear conversation with an audience through doing things and trying to make them laugh. The rules are straightforward. I like the c word because I don’t have to remember lines and it’s physical.
You have lived in Paris, however were born in New Zealand. How does the circus scene compare?
France has a wonderfully rich history in circus and the scene reflects that. There is generally a great understanding and respect for the arts. Comparing circus in France to circus in New Zealand is a little bit like comparing a caterpillar to a butterfly… And I’m not really sure what I mean by that but I like the mental picture.
‘The Pianist’ is a solo piece, do you prefer performing by yourself as opposed to performing as a troupe?
I like both. They both have their positive sides. It’s a lot faster to make solo shows but it’s more fun to tour with more people.
You have travelled the world extensively with your shows, do you have a particular venue that you have yet to visit, but would love to perform at?
Any tiny tropical island venue will do.
Who has influenced your style the most over the years?
I think it’s more like a massive list of very specific moments that influence me. Dancers are great. I feel inspired by watching dancers. I think I secretly want to be a dancer.
What advice would you give to up and coming circus artists?
Make sure you frame your abilities in a way people can appreciate them.
What can audiences expect when they come and see ‘The Pianist’?
Not too much piano playing and a lot of sweat.
What’s something that you do on stage that never fails to make the audience laugh?
Do you have any exciting future projects in the works?
YES! So many! I’m doing a concept show called ‘Only Bones’ which is a solo show for many performers. I’m doing the first version and then there will be many subsequent versions with different artists. Each show will be totally different except for the parameters of creation, the aesthetic, and the set (one overhanging light). I also directed a children’s show called ‘Caterpillars’ that is touring and available. Then Sanna and I are talking of a follow up show to ‘The Pianist’. In between all of that we have a tour of the US with ‘The Pianist’ as well as popping over to Hong Kong and Japan.
The Pianist runs to 17th January at the Arts Centre in Melbourne. More details can be found here.