How To Universe

Wellington Circus Hub, 11 Hutchinson Rd, Newtown, Wellington

07/02/2014 - 09/02/2014

Wellington Circus Hub, 11 Hutchinson Rd, Newtown, Wellington

03/04/2015 - 05/04/2015

NZ Fringe Festival 2014

Production Details

Created and performed by Zane Jarvie, Degge Jarvie and Imogen Stone

Circus Theatre

How to Universe premiered as part of Wellington Fringe 2014. After a year of further development the three performers and their show are back with more imagination than ever.

Three performers combine their skills and passion for juggling, illusion and physical performance to create their own modern circus show – How to Universe.

How to Universe – This bizarre and highly skilled show invites the audience on a journey into space through the world of modern circus, as only these three imaginations can create. This super physical & highly entertaining performance includes everything from an aerial silk, and juggling clubs, to a living lamp and a transforming couch.

The cast and crew of ‘How to Universe’ consists of three Wellington based performers Zane Jarvie, Degge Jarvie and Imogen Stone.

Zane and Degge were born into juggling. Over the years they have become among the best jugglers in the country performing nationwide and reaching the final of New Zealand’s Got Talent. They enjoy bringing humour into their highly skilled juggling, “They are the Flight of the Conchord’s of Juggling” – Matt Hall, internationally renowned juggler.

Imogen Stone has been involved in performance arts from a young age and is known for her musicality and physicality. While still at school, she performed professionally for events from Auckland to Dunedin, until an invitation to tour with Circus Aotearoa along with Zane tempted her to run away to the circus in December 2012.

How To Universe is an uplifting and skilful show where the audience will laugh and applaud at the comedy and the spectacular circus skills, but also think about the bigger ideas the show suggests. How To Universe is a journey into space and the audience will choose to suspend their disbelief and come with us. The final moments of our show symbolise gazing up at the stars remembering how vast the universe really is, but instead of powerlessness, we feel united with our fellow humans here on Earth.

Combining their imaginations and talents the three have collaborated to create an original production.

Venue:  Wellington Circus Hub, 11 Hutchison Rd, Behind Te Whaea: NZ National Dance and Drama Centre
3rd, 4th, 5th April 2015
$15 on the door + koha/donation after the show

Theatre , Circus ,

80 mins

Intriguingly packaged skills

Review by John Smythe 04th Apr 2015

The verb to universe appears to mean to transcend the tedium of flat living and take imagined and imaginative flight into a quirky universe that defies the laws of physics. 

The first trick deployed by Imogen Stone, Degge Jarvie and Zane Jarvie is to lower our expectations right down by getting us to empathise with the ennui of their couch-based lifestyle, where cups of tea, the newspaper, the day’s snail mail and a book are the only sources of entertainment. No wonder the sofa turns into a black hole, for one of them at least … not that the others notice for ages.

Trying to find interest in a newspaper and order in the balls it keeps on generating sets Degge up for an idiosyncratic juggling sequence that progresses from 3 through 4, 5 and 6 to 7 balls, all cleverly timed to an excellent soundtrack (no programme credits for sound designer or technical operator).  

Back on the couch weird things happen with lights before Imogen joins Degge for a bravura pas de deux of swaying, swinging, flipping, balancing and twirling, where she is gymnast to his strongman anchor. It’s up to us to decide what this display of flair born of trust is a metaphor for.

The flight captain’s announcement and subsequent safety briefing needs much more wit in the text (it’s pretty well word-for-word what you’d hear in a stock standard plane).  Quite how the baton-juggling performed by Zane and Degge fits in to the space flight context eludes me but it’s very impressive nevertheless (you may have seen this duo progress to the finals of New Zealand’s Got Talent).

This time it’s Imogen who is consumed by the couch which sets off a long sequence involving the appearance of multiple spheres forming some sort of constellation. For me the primary interest is in working out how just the three of them are managing to do all that, if indeed it is just them. Later the stars, planets and moons will be sent into decline with taps from Imogen and I am at a loss to know what that denotes. I realise dream sequences need no logic but they are much more interesting when their symbolism can be interpreted.

Before all that, however, Imogen takes to the air via silks with a routine that is both lyrical and heart-stopping, given the number of times just one hand and maybe the grip of one knee joint is all that keeps her aloft. As with the whole show, the way the action is set to music adds vitality.

White hands (Zane and Degge) juggling colour-changing balls under UV light is entertainingly mind-bending. Just as I think I’ve got the hang of how they are doing it, something happens to blow the logic apart which, in this case, adds great value.

Imogen tops her silks skills with an aerial hoop routine that plays beautifully and whimsically with light and shadow while making us gasp even more at the sureness of her strength and the meticulous timing of all involved.

Coming in at just over an hour, How to Universe packages its contemporary circus skills intriguingly, although some of the contextual elements need to be either tightened or developed for greater dramatic or comedic impact. An ‘outside eye’ with dramaturgical and directorial sensibilities may be in order.


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Funny and captivating

Review by Amy Tait 08th Feb 2014

The three young performers in How to Universe are out to charm and impress; which they do memorably in this dynamic and vibrant show, built on a unique concept that has something for everyone. 

At the Wellington Circus Hub, we are invited into a makeshift performance space that suits this quirky show perfectly.  It is an intimate setting and the audience is up close and personal.  Luckily, all three performers are relaxed and comfortable on stage, presenting a show that is as funny as it is captivating. 

Zane and Degge are both highly skilled jugglers and talented performers.  They have an easy energy on stage and great chemistry with each other.  The audience readily forgives the balls and clubs that fall to the floor, as they are entranced by the visual effects and the complexity of what these young men can do.

Imogen Stone is a stunning talent; performing three memorable acts in the show.   Her partnering work with Zane is stunning and her tissue and aerial hoop performances have the audience gasping and cheering as she skillfully weaves her magic. Her strength enables her to appear effortless in her performance of highly complex routines. The choreography of her pieces is beautiful and it is wonderful to see her display musicality and interpretation, as well as her physical ability.

This is an original production, created by  Zegge, Zane and Imogen and they have total ownership of it.  This product of their imaginations is a unique concept, delivered superbly by the 3 performers.  You will laugh at the cute robot-narrator, cheer at the skil,l and gasp at the physical feats.

How to Universe will charm children and adults alike, so it is a shame that the later start time might hinder parents from taking their children.  There are only two more shows: tonight (Saturday 8th) and tomorrow (Sunday 9th) at 9pm.  At a price comparative to a movie admission, you will get a lot more for your money.


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