Circus is heart of the carnival

Jan DeGrass/Arts and Entertainment Writer / Staff writer
August 30, 2013 01:00 AM

The heart and soul of the festival is the Rainforest Circus, a performance on the park's forested slopes. See more photos in our on-line galleries at

The carnival came to Shirley Macey Park last weekend - but this fun fair was without the bright lights, fuzzy toys and cotton candy.

It was a free admission, home spun, use-your-own-creativity event known as the Synchronicity Festival put on by Deer Crossing, the Art Farm, and a horde of enthusiastic volunteers.

It's been described as a synchronous meshing of art, nature and food.

"Once again we were blown away by the response from the community, and by the explosion of creativity that happens at this event," said artistic director Chad Hershler.

He estimated about 2,000 visitors attended during the weekend, with a spike in the number of adults, particularly seniors, attending. It has clearly snowballed from what was once a small occasion with 200 people on the Langdale art farm a few years ago.

Kids with parents in tow arrived to try out the life-sized cedar board game in which participants had to negotiate cedar circles, tippy rocks and planks to solve clues - in an event put on by The Only Animal Theatre Company. The game that was a true hit with the kids involved a simple length of plastic pipe big enough for one or two children to ride in while others pushed.

Musicians and stilt walkers roamed the carnival midway where booths from such organizations as the Sunshine Coast Conservation Association and the Sechelt Arts Festival offered ring toss games. The food booths whipped up local dishes: prawns in dill sauce on a skewer, blackberry muffins and even local micro brewed beer from the new Persephone Brewing Co.

Saturday evening's events involved a beer garden, shadow puppets from Mind of a Snail and funky music from the Brown Paper Bag band.

The heart and soul of the festival is the Rainforest Circus, a performance on the park's forested slopes, transformed from a Frisbee golf course to a moving theatre complete with artistic installations, sound and colour.

A game show host, Bob Bobberton, also known in his professional career as Billy Marchenski, invited the audience to stroll the wooded trail to the first scene, a lucky game show. Actor Jonathan Teague was believable as he told stories of living in the woods for 30 years. Steve Weave's fabulous singing voice soared to the treetops as audiences watched the aerial acrobatics of Keely Sills, Alison Denham and Katherine Denham. Loudspeakers among the trees broadcast eerie vocals and the poetry of Eilis Carpentier hung on banners in shady glades.

"You always want to see just one more scene," said a delighted fan, one of almost 100 who walked through each performance. Organizers oversold the last performance on Sunday so that no one would go away disappointed.

The circus scenes were a collaborative process from the actors, said Marchenski. It's a group effort that also involved actor and writer Hershler and creative costuming and installation art from Sandy Buck, founders of the art farm. This approach is what the festival and the art farm are all about: cross pollination between diverse people and ideas.

See: for more about the festival's goals and dreams.

© Copyright 2015 Coast Reporter


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