Members of Our Limbs

BATS Theatre, Wellington

12/12/2010 - 12/12/2010

Production Details



Members of Our Limbs is a frenzy of absurd and eccentric clowning from France. It follows the antics of three sporadically violent and mostly hopeless characters through a series of energetic sketches. The three eccentrics are dragged unwittingly through their own show while trying to keep up with the oppressive requirements of normality.

Members of Our Limbs takes traditional and contemporary European clowning, cuts them both up into little pieces and stitches them back together to create a more twisted form of clowning. 

Members of Our Limbs is the premiere production from Kallo Collective created and performed by founders Jenni Kallo, Sampo Kurppa, and Thom Monckton. The show was rehearsed in Kallo Collective Residence in France and premiered in the contemporary circus festival, Cirko 2010 in Helsinki.

Members of Our Limbs is currently invited to play this show in New Zealand in November 2010. After these performances the company will stay and work in New Zealand during two months on a new production.

Bats Theatre
Sunday 12 December, 7.30pm
$16 (one price fits all)
by internet on book@bats.co.nz or
by phone on 04 8024175.
The show is half sold already and

WE DONT OFTEN SEE THIS KIND OF CRAZINESS
so book quick!

The Company

Kallo Collective is a physical theatre and circus company founded in 2009 by multi-disciplinary artists; Jenni Kallo, Sampo Kurppa and Thom Monckton.

The company has a rehearsal space in France and works predominantly in Finland and France. Kallo Collective aims to intensify and evolve the disciplines of physical theatre, circus, and in particular; clowning.  

Kallo Collective Residence is situated in the French Alps and is the rehearsal space for Kallo Collective. Rehearsals take place on the lower level of a converted hotel in a small village 1800 meters above sea level. With views of La Meije, and a simplified lifestyle with little distraction apart from skiing, rock-climbing, and bread-making the residence provides Kallo Collective with a peaceful and conductive environment for creativity.


THOM

“...blessed with limbs that could rotate in any direction and a body that appeared entirely boneless.” Dartford Times 

“His work is simply some of the funniest that has come out the school’s 10 years of operation.” -Godfrey Sim, CircoArts Director 

Thom Monckton grew up in Patea, South Taranaki with four older brothers and an irrational desire to be a clown. Thom trained two years at New Zealand's circus school CircoArts in Christchurch, and because of recommendations from director of The Loons Theatre Company Mike Friend; two years at the physical theatre school of Jacques Lecoq in Paris.

Apart from the physical theatre training he received at Lecoq, his life experiences included living on the streets of Paris, in an abandoned derelict hotel, in a tent in the woods, and in a hot water cupboard in an illegal residence with no windows. Thom graduated in 2008 and along with Jenni and Sampo went straight into a six-month contract with Hurjaruuth, a circus and dance theatre company in Finland.

Thom has helped start four physical theatre companies Marvin and The Cats (London), Theatreaverse (Paris), Kallo Collective (Helsinki, La Grave), and Theatre Transparent (Paris). He has also established a fund for New Zealand artists – www.scribblecircus.com – and has been awarded a three month artist-in-residence with funding at Saari Residence, Finland for 2011.

JENNI 

Jenni Kallo grew up above the arctic circle in Rovaniemi, Finland. She has been working as a professional performer and teacher since 1995 and has studied at Turku Arts Academy and L'Ecole Internationale du Theatre Jacques Lecoq in Paris.

Jenni has worked continuously since graduating as a circus artist, and her search for a more in-depth knowledge of performance brought her to study at Lecoq from 2006-2008. For the year of 2009 she was fully funded by the Finnish Arts Council when she founded Kallo Collective and Kallo Collective Residence.

Jenni has worked with several high profile companies such as; Circo Aereo, Helsinki City Theatre, Finnish National Opera, and Hurjaruuth Dance Theatre. Within these groups Jenni has become an accomplished dancer, actor and clown. 

SAMPO 

Sampo Kurppa is an actor/juggler from Helsinki, Finland. After graduating high school in 1997 he did odd jobs and travelled around Europe and south-east Asia before discovering the art of juggling while working in a bagel shop in London in 1999. Then things started to find their way.

In 2005 he graduated from Turku Arts Academy Circus Department. After two years of work in theatre and circus he went to study mime and physical theatre techniques at L’Ecole Internationale de Theatre Jacques Lecoq in Paris.

After completing his studies in Paris Sampo continued working as a performer and juggling teacher around Europe taking advantage of the international connections gained at Lecoq.

In his work as a performer Kurppa tells stories through wordless theatre combined with circus, contemporary clowning and string figures. Mixing circus and theatre elements together is maybe not the latest invention but within these genres Sampo achieves uniqueness in style and detail. 



Madcap antics and zany delight

Review by Jennifer Shennan 15th Dec 2010

This one-night-stand by a trio of clowns as zany as any we have seen here for decades gave immeasurable delight to the capacity audience at Bats. One of the clowns, Thom Moncton, is a New Zealander; the other two, Jenni Kallo and Sampo Kurppa, are Finnish. All three are graduates of the legendary school of mime and theatre, Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris.

Madcap antics grow from the labyrinthine complications in their everyday pursuits, so it could be you or me or any other caffeine addict fumbling forever with an espresso machine. Or a stint of karaoke to curdle our laughter. Or any trio meeting for a drink – a pretty, silly girl, a handsome, strutting man, a poor, nervous wannabe, in a line-up offering shades ofthat definitive 20th century choreography, Petrouchka. 

Various absurdities are echoed from Mr. Bean, and even Charlie Chaplin, yet each of these clowns is original in content and style. Their timing is impeccable, and great physical agility is coupled with plasticine faces, crazy hair and a myriad sound effects. They interact with audience members in a quite poignant way, and their satire although often barbed, is never unkind. Such praise is not earned, or given, lightly.

It is sheer pleasure to see this work 40 years after Theatre Action, a company of five graduates of the same Ecole Jacques Lecoq, led by Francis Batten, brought alternative theatre to new territories here in New Zealand. That was before any of these young performers was born, yet the pedigree of their school remains intact and the calibre of work it produces makes memory of those early shows as fresh as yesterday.

All credit to Jenny Rowan McArthur, local artist, for arranging this performance. The Kallo Collective will be welcome back to Wellington any time, though for more than just one performance please. They would sell out a fortnight season. 
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Emotional truth at the heart of success

Review by John Smythe 13th Dec 2010

We all have a clown within us; not just a child to be rediscovered in adult form but someone whose naivety, gullibility and susceptibility to strong and deep-felt emotions would come to the fore in idiosyncratic ways if certain controlling factors were subtracted from our learned strategies for survival. 

This trio – two from Finland and one from New Zealand – have all discovered their personal clowns and honed their physical theatre skills at L’Ecole Internationale de Theatre Jacques Lecoq in Paris (see the production page for more details of their already extensive and multi-disciplined careers).

Their Kallo Collective is based in the French Alps but now Thom Monkton, the Kiwi, has brought Jenni Kallo and Sampo Kurppa to NZ for a couple of months to further develop their inaugural show, Members of Our Limbs. It premiered as a work-in-progress at this year’s Cirko Festival in Helsinki and will return there next year (May 2011) as a fully-fledged production ready for touring.

Many would consider this one-off hour-long showing at Bats to be complete and tour-ready, so it would be fascinating to see what more they bring to it by way of distilling what they already have and adding new material.  Let’s hope they give us – or audiences in Christchurch (where I gather they will be working) – a preview before they leave our shores.

Interesting title. It could be tautological (given ‘member’ can mean ‘limb’) and yes, the show is reasonably taut (some parts could be tighter) and certainly logical in clowning terms :o>. Or it could mean that in this wacky world, limbs are the controlling entity and the person attached to them has joined as a member, as they might a team or group.

Sampo’s arms jut out to the elbows and his forearms grope the air as his legs stride out at odd angles, as if finding their ways through heavy mist. Thom’s body parts have the capacity to move in isolation, in different directions, with apparent minds of their own. And Jenni flips the coin completely by being physically incapable of articulating herself about the space – requiring the men to lift, carry and place her in position – except with she dances.

(Note: They do not appear to have designated clown names, so I’ll use their first names to refer to their clown personae.)

It’s a non-verbal show, although some sequences involve English-language songs. Samo, with his straggly jawline beard and seriously blank expression, then Thom, whose hair looks electrically shocked and whose black-rimmed specs are held together with white tape, trolley their furniture, props and Jenni on stage.  In repose, her eyes stare through huge round specs.

After much meticulous setting of a Turkish rug, just so, the trio suddenly animates to a very funky recording of ‘I Will Survive’ and the show proper is under way. Thom brings clown logic to getting a domestic espresso machine to work, precipitating an inspired sequence with lighter-than-air rubbish bags that get batted about the auditorium by Samo and Thom while Jenni moves – at last – to Zorba’s dance.

In setting up a café scene, Thom encounters a problem involving a chair, one arm and a tray. His solution creates a bigger problem which he manages to get out of with great comic ingenuity. Although it involves the oldest gag in the book – dropping his trousers – the way he gets them back up again earns him a well-deserved round of applause.

Now he waits upon Jenni and Sampo, whose romantic candle-lit sipping of pink wine degenerates into a guzzle-fest accompanied by Grieg’s ‘Hall of the Mountain King’. Sampo gets to tidy up and, despite getting his fingers stuck in bottles, manages to reinstate order at last. This was the only sequence that I felt was still very much a work in progress,

Maybe roses will facilitate romance better … but of course this, too, goes awry. Once more Jenni become limbly challenged, provoking a physical sequence involving a great deal of trust on her part beneath her apparent passivity.

Miming to pre-recorded sound-effects is a minefield as the slighted mistiming obliterates the value of all you’ve got right so far. But they don’t put a limb or digit wrong as they play out a funky duet on piano (Thom) and percussion (Sampo): a brilliantly executed sequence.

When Jenni intrudes with a vacuum cleaner, a sucked-up maraca, once retrieved, allows her to join in. Maybe that’s not enough because she goes on to destroy the piano and drum kit in a gleeful orgy of violence against property – and people, when a mercifully mimed hand grenade is lobbed into the audience. Is this the result of her repression and subjugation?  

The finale is a joyful affirmation, to ‘Ain’t Got No/ I Got Life’ and ‘Finiculi Finicula’, as the trio cleverly contrive a rose-throwing tribute to their undoubted skills as entertainers.

It is the essence of emotional truth in ‘personal clowning’ that is at the heart of this sort of physical theatre’s success. The Kallo Collective excels in ensuring Members of Our Limbs is much more than a demonstration of skills.

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