Cirque du Soleil's "Quidam" brings imagination to life
In the hectic pace of day-to-day living, it's easy to get lost in the shuffle.
But, if you're lucky, and you happen to live in the world of Cirque du Soleil, you might have a chance to escape into the whimsical world of "Quidam."
This unique tale follows Zoe, a bored young girl ignored by her parents, as she embarks into the imaginary world with the sprightly character of John and his sidekick, The Target. And, much like Zoe, Milwaukee will have its own chance to explore this fanciful realm when Cirque du Soleil brings it to the Bradley Center Oct. 19-23.
"'Quidam' definitely tugs at the heartstrings of being human, and I think that's one of the things that endears it to the public," says Mark Ward, who performs as the principal character, John.
"We're dealing with human emotions and things we go through in normal life. Sure, we have a fantasy realm in the storyline that we've been given by Cirque du Soleil, but they leave it open for you to actually complete the story. That's where the fun comes in, because what you might draw from the story might be something different from what (Zoe) draws from it, and I think that's unique."
The title "Quidam" refers to both the fantasy world Zoe gets drawn into and the anonymous character of the same name that invites her in.
"The name quidam means anonymous passerby. We're continually moving in life without realizing what's in front of us," explains Ward.
"The mother is listening to the radio and the father's in a newspaper, and the girl is trying to get their attention. Through them ignoring her, in her own mind she enters another world to create something for herself. That's where me and my sidekick come in. We've been dropped in by Quidam to help this girl through."
As Zoe is guided through the fantasy land of Quidam, the audience is treated to an array of visually striking circus performances, seamlessly interwoven throughout the story.
"The great thing about the Cirque du Soleil shows is we always pay homage to traditional circuses," says Ward. "Our director started on the streets of Montreal in 1984. It's important for us to always make that link, but we also want to go a little bit further. We create this world of entertainment that's uniquely Cirque, but still we know exactly where we come from and we use that as the fuel."
True to their circus roots, "Quidam" provides spectacles like the German wheel, aerial acrobatics, Spanish webs, balancing acts and more, supported by a cast of over 50 performers representing 18 different countries.
"I think in all Cirque du Soleil shows, what's quite unique about working in the company is you have so many different nationalities coming together to do one production," says Ward.
"You might think it would be a challenge – and of course we are faced with some challenges – but the amazing thing is the professionalism that comes with that and the respect for the show. This creates all this exciting tension that gets put into the show, and with "Quidam" especially, I can't stop speaking the praises of this particular team because it's so much fun."
Ward, who has performed in "Quidam" for 13 years and has 5 years experience with another of Cirque du Soleil's shows, "Mystere," is able to work with the audience as much as the cast in his role as the show's "ringmaster."
"It's not as physically demanding as the other show, however I do find it more mental because I'm the closest link from the public to the stage," he explains.
"I'm the one that can actually reach out and touch you to try to communicate to you and make you part of that on stage. It's also a great challenge because I have to redefine myself to every country and every city I go to. What might work in Fort Wayne might not work here.
For me, it keeps me grounded, and it definitely keeps it fresh. Even though I'm still doing the same show, we're not doing the same show. It's a live show, so things happen, but we're trained to make the show go on always."
What makes "Quidam" unique and has kept it engaging for Ward and audiences around the world is the show's uniquely tender message.
"You could pass someone on the street for six years, for instance, and say, 'Oh, I've seen that person, but I have no idea.' You could have gotten coffee in the same line but never once said hello. That's what 'Quidam' is about, is taking that veil off so you can experience these situations," says Ward.
"It's very human. I see it every night, I've seen it thousands of times, and it still touches me."
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