In preparation for a five-show run at this year’s Brighton Fringe, Journalist Zac Sherratt-Jordan caught up with As a Tiger in the Jungle’s creative producer, Ali Williams, to find out more about her magical piece of circus theatre.
Tackling themes of poverty, greed and exploitation, As a Tiger in The Jungle tells the devastating story of three young children in Nepal who are sold to the circus. Curated by Ali, the production walks through the very real life issue of child trafficking and the struggles faced by the country’s poverty stricken children - something Ali had learned about first-hand, after spending time in Nepal.
“I spent a year working with a group of young people that had been rescued from Indian circuses that wanted to do circus in a more contemporary way. I went there to be the creative director of an organisation called circus Kathmandu,” Ali explains.
The organisation worked with children who were sold by their parents in return for monthly payments, only for their children to completely disappear.
“There are a group of children that missed out on a lot of their schooling, so they have very little career options, especially in Nepal, but they do have a load of circus skills. My mission was to try and get them to understand the circus could be fun, could be entertaining and so they could tell their stories, they could earn money and that it could become a decent living for them,” she continues.
Children who benefited from the fantastic work of Circus Kathmandu, now play integral parts in As a Tiger in the Jungle, Ali tells me. The theatre production shares the real stories of the young children, as they are trafficked into the circus. They portray these experiences using their circus skills, making for an authentic and genuine performance.
“We use a tiger as a metaphor for the human traffickers,” Ali explains. “Renu lived in a house on the edge of the Indian border, and there were tigers in the jungle that came and occasionally snatched people from the village, the same as the way the human traffickers come and snatch children from the village.”
Despite the heavy themes, Ali insists this is a tale with a happy ending.
“It is really uplifting, because what you are actually seeing is three people performing their own story. It’s not very often that you see a genuine piece of theatre with people telling their own stories. I know what a quality performance is, and this is one.”
The hour-long performance is packed full of emotion, Bollywood scenes, acrobatics and aerial displays which promise for an enchanting and inspiring show.
If you are heading to Brighton Fringe this year, be sure to check out As A Tiger In The Jungle at Brighton Open Air Theatre.