When you’ve been doing something for 20 years, I’m sure you’ll get at least some deeper feeling out of doing it for the very last time. You might go looking for the things you’ll miss. Or you might get lost in thought as you repeat those same motions you’ve done a hundred, thousand times before, finding a renewed value in them.
I don’t care what the others say. The head rigger in fact, claimed “No one’s going to miss it.”
As I stood in the winter cold, watching the set pieces being loaded into containers for shipment back to Montreal, I did get some deeper feeling out of it. After 20 years, we were doing the load-out for the very last time, before the curtain fell for Alegria.
Against my expectations, instead of putting me on rigging inside the heated venue, they put me on a forklift outside, which meant I was terribly underdressed for the job. The same couldn’t be said of the last few artists scurrying around to collect their belongings and souvenirs before disappearing into the dressing rooms: Their make-up and costumes look hilarious from up close, under cold tube light.
We locals were a colorful bunch. At the time of writing I’m still dressed in red and dark green, signifying that I am a fork operator. Pushers were in orange shirts, carpenters were blue. Our whole skillset, talents and personality was captured in two words as a Canadian raised his hand and barked skillfully, “Yellow shirts! On me!”
The uninformed onlooker might be forgiven for mistaken this to be a regular load-out, with the slight difference that the trucks had no ramps or illumination inside. What really happened was the complete disassembly of Cirque Du Soleil’s first, oldest and cheapest show, before being divided into containers with a seal and hauled by Dutch drivers to all corners of the world. I considered jumping a container and saving myself the travel costs to Canada this summer, but I couldn’t be sure I wouldn’t end up in Russia.
No one really seemed to know what was to happen with the trampolines, trusses, lights or expensive technicians’ chairs (although I am sitting on one that I took home, right now). Five hours and an impressive display of organized chaos after the last show, Alegria was no more.
Watching the end of a beginning, you might get a bit existential like I did, admiring the teamwork the technicians had built up over the years of working together. A gesture, a look, and the situation was clear. Each had his job, each knew where to be next. Labels had to be torn off cables, flight cases designated to a different truck number than before. The usual, but different.
So yes, I did feel kind of special. I had all the time to do so, shivering while my forklift stood forgotten in the dark. I do feel that these productions have some value, some contribution beyond entertainment, and I do consider myself privileged to have worked on Varekai, Dralion, Quidam, and perhaps a few more that I am forgetting. And Alegria.
And I, for one, was sad to see it go, but loved to watch it leave.