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Enter a watery wonderland with the Rainforest Circus

Enter a watery wonderland with the Rainforest Circus

After a three-year hiatus, the Rainforest Circus returns to the Coast July 27 to 29. Produced by Deer Crossing the Art Farm, the show, titled Submerged, will see a section of Cliff Gilker Park transformed into an ocean as they take on the theme of water. Chad Hershler, Art Farm’s artistic and executive director, says the Circus took a break after their last show in 2015 to regroup and find new ways of engaging the community into their shows. “We had so much success integrating some of the younger folks in the circus in 2014 and 2015,” says Hershler. “And we found that so enriching and dynamic for the show. We wanted to more formally reach out to community members to be part of the process.” Over the last two summers, they hosted a series of workshops that focussed on the creation of a circus performance, building a group of committed local community members. There are approximately 25 people involved in putting on the circus, with 12 of those having emerged from the workshops to take on roles as clowns, performers, dancers, singers and musicians.

Aerialists Keely Sills, left, and Kira Schaffer hang from a tree during rehearsals for “Submerged”, a theatrical show being presented in Cliff Gilker Regional Park in Roberts Creek. Chloe Langmaid photo

Water was an important theme for the troupe to explore. “Water is on everyone’s minds these days,” says Hershler. “From the lack of it to the ocean levels rising from climate change. What is our relationship to the ocean and how is that relationship changing?” The story follows the two main characters on a metaphorical journey to the bottom of the sea to reconcile their adversarial past. According to Hershler, turning the forest into the sea isn’t as hard as it sounds. “The forest can very easily act as an ocean-like space,” he says. “Especially the rainforest. It’s so dense and rich.” Hints of the ocean will be given using fabrics, kelp hanging from the trees, art installations, and a gargle choir. “We were playing with water,” laughs Hershler. “We started singing and gargling at the same time and it was so fun and so funny.” The innovative troupe also includes aerialists, spoken word, soundscapes and unique costumes designed by Sandy Buck.

The show is approximately an hour long and promises to entertain all ages. “They can expect to be totally wowed and amazed,” promises Hershler. “It’s a very unique experience [and] it’s a powerful moment when you bring people together in the forest.”

The Rainforest Circus presents Submerged July 27 to 29 at Cliff Gilker Park. July 27 is already sold out. Saturday, July 28, shows at noon, 2:30pm and 5:30pm. Sunday, July 29, shows at noon and 2:30pm. Tickets $20 for adults, youth and seniors $15, children under 12 $10, available online at or on site if there are any left. Please note that trails are not suitable for strollers, wheelchairs or other transport devices. As parking is extremely limited, patrons are strongly encouraged to carpool or use the shuttle service from Roberts Creek Elementary. The shuttle is free and can be booked when purchasing tickets.

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