The bearded acrobats from Montreal are back for another Fringe season to flip the traditions of Quebec circus with their new show Tabarnak after wowing local audiences with their previous show Barbu.
Cirque Alfonse won’t be the only circus hailing from the French Canadian province this year as they will be joined by fellow Quebec acrobats Flip FabriQue at Gluttony this Adelaide Fringe season. Both troupes upend the circus tradition of the Canadian province as circus was popular in fairgrounds of Quebec at the turn of last century and was made globally popular with the advent of the touring juggernaut and Las Vegas regulars Cirque du Soleil.
“Circus is really popular in Quebec,” Cirque Alfonse co-founder Antoine Carabinier-Lepine says. “I think it’s got a lot to do with Cirque du Soleil [Carabinier-Lepine performed in Cirque du Soleil] but for the last couple of years there have been many other smaller circuses like us and Flip FabriQue. I think it’s good for us to just be here as it shows that circus is evolving with the smaller groups. Circus is really strong in Montreal but alternatively we need to be abroad to perform because there are not so many people in Quebec.”
(photo: Audric Gagnon)
While modern circus and acrobatics is now a feature of every Fringe season, the largely bearded family circus that is Cirque Alfonse was a standout of the last two seasons with their rave-circus Barbu, which received ecstatic notices in 2016 and 2017. While their last show flipped circus with a rave energy, Tabarnak will fuse circus with church theatrics and live rock’n’roll for an acrobatic live rock musical.
“Church was really big in Quebec 20, 30 years ago,” Carabinier-Lepine says. “It was the place where everybody came together as a community. We wanted that feeling in the show and we wanted to express what is going on with the church now. So, we’re mixing all the religions to make this show about everybody together in the world.”
So it’s about showing the similarities of people no matter their religion?
“Yeah, it’s more about the similarities, community and people all together — that we are all the same in a way.”
Tabarnak also features performers dressed up in ice hockey gear. Carabinier-Lepine says the popular northern hemisphere sport is a “kind of religion” in Quebec.
“So that’s why that’s in the show. We talk about religion but it’s not necessarily about religion. It’s more about what people kind of try to find in the world to get involved with society.”
Header photo: Guillaume Morin