A totally biaised review of MKJC8
My role as part of MKJC has changed from main organiser to show booker so I was intending to actually see what happened at the convention this year. I did see a lot more but the day was more stressful than I had anticipated. Still it all turned out OK in the end.
On Friday evening I was running a quiz at the local museum, my mother who runs the tea shop at the museum had done the catering at the quiz and normally also does the scoring. During the day she had noticed that one of her fingers was getting larger and hotter, by half way through the quiz she needed to go to the local walk-in centre to have it looked at (my wife drove her there as she couldn't drive with the finger so swollen - it took 3 hours of waiting for them to spend less than 5 minutes looking at her and prescribing a course of anti-biotics - as of yesterday the swelling whilst somewhat reduced was still bad and painful). As a result of all this and getting in at 23:30 I didn't look at my emails until Saturday morning.
The first thing I noticed from my emails was one from our hat juggler, Georgie, saying that she had fallen down the stairs at work the day before and hurt her wrist and therefore wouldn't be in the show. This put us at 7 acts, only one of any length. That was possibly pushing it.
There wasn't a lot I could do at that point but get on with the things I had to do for the convention (which included bringing a large aerial rig and erecting it) due to various causes I finished that about 10:50 and then had to run a workshop at 11:00. I didn't have that many at my intermediate diabolo workshop but I think everyone who came learnt at least one new trick which is generally my aim. It was fun. I finished around 12:00 and went to see if any of my acts had arrived obviously bumping into a bunch of old friends along the way and so taking a while. I met up with Void who gave me a little run down on his kendama 6th dan achievement amongst other things. After a while I also met Matt the Devil-sticker who was sporting a couple of bruises around his eye and on his face. Apparently he had fallen off his bike about 4 days before and his whole left side was bruised. Obviously he wasn't going to be in the show. I was down to 6 acts. Fortunately I wasn't the main organiser, I could share the stress with Cory. After asking a few people Jonathan the Jester volunteered to help out and put on an act. He organised the whole act on the day and even bought the jacket at the event. He also helped run the games later on. He deserves a massive thank you from the whole team. He didn't deserve the flack he got from one attendee on a Facebook thread about what you liked and disliked about the convention (this message has since been deleted).
After lunch I gave Jamie Fletcher a whole bunch of rings that had been sitting in my garage for a while and he promised that he would get working on a Salerno ring for me. I then had to help take down the aerial rig. I did do a little bit of club juggling but it didn't last long as Greeny then appeared and I chatted to him. I also conversed with Kevin Fletcher who casually does great tricks on his unicycle and then protests it is nothing. I'm sorry but standing on one pedal on the side of the unicycle, hovering and then juggling back crosses is not nothing!
Sometime around three I met up with Jamie and Lizzie in the cafe and played three rounds of one game with them. I can't remember the name of the game but it has domino like tiles, all of which show types of land (wood, sea, plains etc) and some of which have crowns on them. That should be enough for someone else to identify it.
Around the start of the games I took the rig back to where it lives so that I could more easily fit everything else in my car later on ( I also had another rig and a sound system to transport but they were needed for the show). I got back in time to grab some pizza and then it was rehearsal time.
All the professional and experienced acts did their tech first and we slowly gathered up the 25 kids who were representing Concrete Circus this year. This is 10 more than the previous best. Their act comprised 6 sections which alternated between the slow and hopefully graceful with action sections. The rehearsal did not go well. At one point I learned that one of the sections of music we needed had been emailed to me that morning (after I had already left home) and as my phone has been discharging rapidly recently I had no power to get to my emails. This caused the sound man a lot of grief so well done Max who is only 13. The sound in the show may have had some problems but that was because we caused a number of them.
On to the show.
The compere Stevie Vegas is known to others as Steve Thomson. His routines were full of puns and he did a good job of working the audience.
First act as always was Concrete Circus, the act was titled 'Grace and Flavour' due to it's alternating nature. The first section was a 1,2 and 3 person aerial hoop piece that was well received. At the end of this we had to move the rig from the front of the stage and whilst we had rehearsed this we had used the stage manager as one of the people who was grabbing one of the legs. As he was trying to help with some of the sound problems we had caused he wasn't available so I had to ask a parent from out of the audience.
Second section was always going to be our most problematic as it involved 6 kids juggling and whilst mainly they weren't doing anything that difficult they don't tend to practice juggling for a sustained period but rather normally switch tricks fairly often so e.g. 2 minutes of club passing with people walking or cartwheeling through the pattern tends towards the droppy. The audience did get to witness a handspring 3 ball collect to juggle and our 11 year old juggler Max perform some of his longer routine including a finger fork catch, to under the leg throw to neck catch.
Third section was our s-staff and poi bit, this was much better co-ordinated than in practice. If anyone has tried to herd cats then you might try comparing it to getting kids to stay in time with each other.
Next we had the walking globe routine with 3 kids aged 9 or 10. They performed several tricks on the walking globe (only one out of order) and managed to finish in time with the music (which was 'In the hall of the Mountain King') which is really tough to do.
In the penultimate section we had 2 girls dancing on stilts. The music cut off just before the finish because of a misinterpreted cue but that didn't make much difference and as the dance stops with both girls sitting on the floor the audience got to witness getting up without the use of walls, helpers or anything other than skill.
The last section featured 8 unicyclists performing various tricks to 'The Dambusters March'. Just before the finish we have two sets of 4 unicyclists going round in tight circles (holding on to a small hoop). They then all change direction at the same time. Many in the audience may have heard me cheer as this worked perfectly. In practice it had worked a total of twice in more than 40 attempts.
Second act was Julia (Jules) Cormack-Cooke. This was an excellent staff routine performed to a spoken word piece. Everything about this piece was great and you can tell I really enjoyed it. Jules will be working with Performers Without Borders next year and as a fund raising measure she will be hosting two cabaret shows, one at the wonderful Up the Creek in Greenwich, on Monday November 27th, the other at Etcetera Theatre in Camden, on Wednesday 29th.
Closing the first half was The Void. He performed his club routine which includes many fakes, many silly faces and some great skills. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
During the interval the raffle was held. When I bought my wristband in the morning I hadn't been asked if I wanted raffle tickets but was instead just charged for them. At the time I thought it would have been nice to be asked. As it was I was extremely grateful as I won the first prize (An adult BJC ticket). I've already booked our places at the BJC but I'm sure I can either sell this on or claim the money back.
Starting the second half was Jonathan the Jester and some of Wessex Circus and friend. Jonathan told a short story about having his hair cut and how it impacted his son. This was one of the funniest stories I have ever heard him tell. He did his old routine of getting a kid to stand on his shoulder, then got a couple of his youngsters to do some acrobatics. He got a couple of older youths (Adam and Chris?) to pass clubs whilst on walking globes, finishing with him having Adam on his shoulders whilst they passed clubs. This put Adam about the height of the top of the stage curtain but he coped admirably. Many thanks again Jonathan.
Matt Green is known for many routines but not ring juggling which was what he performed. This was a really nice new routine which was nearly dropless. It started with six rings, dropped down to three and gradually built back to five. When his music ran out it restarted which Matt wasn't expecting but he coped admirably. A really good piece.
I first saw the Robot act performed by Brook and Becky at Leeds convention last year. I immediately asked Brook if he would like to perform it at MKJC. After getting Becky to agree they confirmed and it was exactly as good as I expected. Even though there were many more height issues than elsewhere. It isn't apparent to the audience that there are beams and light bars that go across the top of the stage and these get in the way. There are only a few places you can stand and not hit them and it is much harder for a passing act. I saw Becky recover at least one throw that had clearly hit something. The act as always combined high skill and comedy.
Finally or should that be finale was Matt Hennem. He performed his mime/dance contact routine. I haven't got tired of watching it and this is the third time I've seen it performed this year. We get a lot of people in the audience who don't go to other conventions and they were really wowed by it.
Can I thank everyone who took part in the show and everyone who ran the event especially Cory Bond. Even with the stress it was still the easiest MKJC for me of the lot.
Did you have any breakfast on Saturday morning?
What did you have for lunch?
What flavour pizza did you have in the evening?
Jokes aside, thank you for your review! ;-)
I was sorry to miss the convention (first MKJC I have missed) and it was lovely to read a run down of the days events.
Missed breakfast. Lunch was a cheddar cheese sandwich, a peanut butter sandwich, a pack of stilton flavour cheddars and a rocky bar. Pizza was texas barbecue meat feast and was delicious.
Not sure whether I will make it to Leeds on Saturday yet.
A run down of the days events might have included other workshops and the games but I missed most of that. My wife, Tracey, ran a how to teach beginners juggling workshop and attended a lasso workshop and progressed to above the head. Other things happened of which I have no knowledge and which I will learn about over the next week or so. One review is never enough for an event but even one is better than nothing.
Cheers for the review, and the nice comment. Minor note: you seem to suggest Greeny was in the second half, but he was in the first half, after Jules.
Meanwhile, photos.... Wait, was that *you* with the bloody flash?!?!
As most of the photos are quite dark no flash was used for them but I did try and get the odd photo with flash so I had a picture for the DVD which you will get for free being in the show. I also was told to use flash at the very start so that we could sync all the video. I probably did annoy you with flash at some point but not often compared to the 30+ photos I have of you.
When I wrote the review I was struggling with sleep deprivation and couldn't remember which half Greeny was in. When looking at my photos it was obvious but you can't edit posts on JugglingEdge and I didn't actually say when he appeared but rather implied he was second half.
That game you mention is called 'Kingdomino' Nigel, our current favourite game.
Also, may I say that keeping your rings in an old record box is a very bright and sparkling idea.
A good review, I would add that The Auction was seriously good as well, I got a pashley unicycle sort of accidentally- I think £25 is still far too cheap.
The lady who kept outbidding herself was particularly good value for money.
I knew the name of the game shortly after I wrote the review. In fact I bought it the next week at Leeds along with Splendour which we have also enjoyed. I can't claim the idea of keeping rings in LP cases as it came from Barney Bay (Barney Maunder-Taylor) as did the rings.
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