PERSONAL ESSENTIALS & PACKING IDEAS
Absolute Essentials You Need from Day 1
- notebook with removable pages (spiral bound is perfect) and a pen
- water bottle (with your name on it, just like in school)
- cell phone that works in Thailand
- your acts, costumes, music, and teaching plans
Useful Things to Bring
- small towel
- sleep sheet – for uncertain beds and mixed weather conditions
- shoes that slip on/off
- bathrobe – for between shows when you are not ready to dress
- sarong – multi-purpose: towel, bathrobe, bathing suit, makeshift dressing room
- prescription medications
- herbal or natural medicines and vitamins
- spare glasses or contacts
- fleece jacket for chilly mornings
- underwear that dries quickly
- repair kits for your tools and costumes
- watch or timepiece
- ziplock bags for makeup, accessories, food storage
- safety pins
- tools for your non-circus skills (haircutting, reiki, tarot reading, etc)
- sharpie markers or other broad-tipped colored pens
Things you may want to buy in Bangkok (shop before the project starts)
- Costumes @ Pratina (checkered pants, loose harem pants, shiny everything, beaded belts and necklaces)
- Cosmetics (glitter, eye pencils, etc)
- Shoes (but size 42 and above are hard to find)
- Accessories, toys and props in Chinatown (ears, clips, mini hats, big sunglasses, balls, LED accessories, etc)
- cell phone, SIM card, and phone credit (1-2-Call is available in 7-11 and other shops)
Things you will be able to buy in Mae Sot
- cell phone & phone credit
- baby wipes
- soap and shampoo
- mosquito spray
- snacks (nuts, candy, fresh and dried fruit)
- tiger balm & prickly heat powder (mentholated baby powder)
- laundry detergent
- OTC medication like painkillers, anti-fungals, etc.
- plastic bags (but not ziplocks)
- coconut oil
Things you may want to bring for the Island Fundraisers
- sunscreen & bug spray (available, but you won’t have lots of time to shop)
- electrolytes (available, but you won’t have lots of time to shop)
- soap and shampoo
- alternate costume: the islands are sexy-tolerant
- bathing suit
What the Circus Provides for Shows and Workshops
- bubbles, puppets, and other small props
- dance flags and isis wings
- workshop gear: hula hoops, poi, juggling balls/scarves, staves, diablo, flower/devil sticks
- sound system & computer
- first aid kit
- carboys of drinking water
- costume bling
You need to arrive with (at least) two acts, rehearsed and ready to go. They should be about 3 minutes long – shorter is better than longer. If you have more than two acts, that is terrific. They will be used and you never know which ones are going to be popular with our audiences. Bring them all (and the music, props, and costumes for them, too).
Acts can be solo displays of technical skill, which are valuable in the circus for creating awe and amazement. Acts can also be little stories with characters and relationships. Our audiences will probably not understand your native language or references to Western pop culture, so think about using pantomime and universal themes in your acts.
Bring the music for your acts on a USB stick (flash/thumb drive) or CD. It must be in .mp3 or .wav format. We will load it into the sound equipment/control computer, so do not bring your music on your iPod, please.
TEACHING & LESSONS
The main focus of the 2016 Spark tour is teaching intensive classes to a limited number of schools. We will have 10 sessions + a public show for each of our two intensives. This will give you approximately 6-8 hours of lesson time with your performance group.
Each intensive will begin with two days of general skill introduction so that every student tries all the skills we teach. Prepare a 30 minute introduction to your skill that you can present to small groups.
After the introduction phase, students will choose a performance group and focus on creating a 3 minute act using that skill. Your role is to guide the act creation process and to teach the skills needed to make their act idea come to life, then to rehearse and coach the students to help them make their act ready for the show. This will be about 1 hour daily for 7 days.
A wide variety of different types of acts and music makes the overall show stronger and more interesting. Don’t be afraid to bust out the silly, perform to pop music, do something that seems outrageous (like balancing a bicycle on your face) or use members of the audience in your act.
If you can team up with other Sparkles to create a duet or a group act, even better. Group acts are a good change of pace from a series of solo acts and help to enliven the show or create a dramatic swell in the pacing.
Even for solo acts, we like to see lot of people on stage – it makes the shows more lively – so we use a concept called “framing” for most of our solo acts. Framing places additional performers on stage in supporting roles. In a skill act featuring poi, there might be framers slowly waving silk fans in the background. In a comedic day show act, extra performers might jump in with puppets who react to the funny bits and help the kids know when to laugh or applaud.
So while you are preparing your acts, consider how you might be able to incorporate framers, what sort of props they could use, and how they might interact with you or the audience. Think back-up dancers, sidekicks, movie extras, or magician’s assistants.
ALL ABOUT COSTUMES
Basic Rules of Spark Circus Costumes
- All costumes must modestly cover knees, bellies, and shoulders.
- Tank tops, crop tops and sports/yoga bras are inappropriate unless covered by other tops.
- No tight pants, including leggings, tights or stockings (even with skirts over them) The outline of your legs from waist to below the knee should be invisible.
- No shorts or miniskirts. Everything below the knee, please.
- No visible underwear, panty lines, or bra straps. Bring skin-tone underwear for your white and light costumes (gentlemen, that means you, too)
- For women, no cleavage or low necklines. Bras required.
- For men, no bulge. Wear a dance cup or athletic supporter if you need to.
- Bare feet are not allowed except in some schools where shoes must be removed.
- Costumes should be clean and in good repair.
Costumes/clothes to bring with you
These should be ready to go on Day 1 with accessories, shoes and appropriate undergarments. Shop during your summer months if possible.
- Show: bright rainbow colors. Fun circus clown outfits that are easy to move in. A classic look for men or women: colorful t-shirts under bright or sparkly vests paired with patterned pants and fun accessories like cat ears, hats, tutus, giant bow ties, etc. You will wear your show costumes almost daily.
- Teaching: Not a costume, per se, but not streetwear, either. A t-shirt and loose pants is perfectly appropriate for both culture and weather. Lycra yoga wear and other tight synthetics are unwise and will embarrass the students. Our work clothes get dirty fast because we train in dusty schoolyards in hot weather; best to have at several options to allow for laundering.
- Island fundraising shows: because we perform mainly for Western tourists on the islands, the costume rules are lifted for the island shows. Bring on your sexy and show your skin. This is where you can do your suggestive acts, too.
The circus has “bling” in the Mae Sot costume closet: shiny and colorful beaded cuffs, necklaces, sequined vests, tutus, mini-hats, feather and flower clips, masks,etc. You are encouraged to borrow these to unify a group act or add more sparkle to your costume.
There are also some spare costume pieces that are useful when yours are at the laundry or you simply can’t stand wearing the same thing again. No guarantee that your size or personal style preferences are catered to… For all items you borrow from the costume closet, you are requested to return them after laundering (at your expense).
Bring shoes that will stay on when you high-kick and spin on stones outdoors, but can also be removed quickly to enter buildings. Martial arts slippers (black cotton loafers with thin rubber soles) are a popular choice, as are plastic “jelly shoes” and Crocs. These can be purchased in Bangkok, but if you have large feet, get them at home. Something that can be washed is brilliant, as you won’t be wearing socks much and your feet will be dirty and possibly sweaty in the shoes.
Thai and Burmese people are fastidiously clean, shower several times daily, and never wear unkempt clothes. We want to “keep up with the Joneses” in order not to offend.
Dirty, torn, or stained costumes reflect poorly on you and the circus. Please repair any rips promptly and keep your costumes clean. Laundry is available at our guesthouse (drop off in the morning, collect the next afternoon) or at one of the nearby laundries (the same schedule) for 5-10 baht per item. Underwear and socks should not be sent to the laundry; please hand wash these in your room.
For shows, there are several options that work well in the hot Thai weather:
- Colored eye pencils allow you to draw on your face easily for quick cat noses, whiskers, hearts and so on
- Liquid eyeliner creates fine lines and details
- Classic facepaint is gorgeous but tends to run in the heat
- Loose glitter is key to setting all makeup (pat a little over your pencil or paint drawings)
- Larger glitter shapes (stars, hearts) cover wide areas like a mask and stay put
- Rhinestones and other bling can be attached to your face with eyelash glue
For training/teaching, no makeup is required. You are always welcome to wear it if you like.
First, a warning of sorts. It is likely that your personal props will be played with by children who sneak backstage, or grab them off the truck, or see them resting somewhere you think is safe. They may be stepped on in the dark, dropped in mud or dust, or otherwise misused by people who don’t love them as much as you do. In other words, your gear is going to be used hard. So if you have tools that are precious, delicate, or irreplaceable, leave them at home and bring something that you don’t mind losing, breaking, or ruining. Not that this is a given outcome, but it is a possibility.
Show props should be marked with your name, if possible, and stored in a closed bag or container (also marked with your name) that allows them to be easily loaded on and off the trucks. Loose items on the truck have a tendency to get misplaced. Lots of day show props are enticing to little hands, so please make an effort to put them away when you come off stage. Easier said than done when you are doing acts back to back or the props are getting reused by other Sparkles. But do try; it makes things easier when the show concludes and it keeps the (usually limited) backstage area tidy.
It is your responsibility to handle your props for shows and teaching. That means loading and unloading them from the trucks and putting them away after use whether they are your personal props or Spark ones that you borrowed.