Emily Carragher: A clown guide through ‘Varekai’ by Cirque Du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai, comes to EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Virginia July 22 to July 26


WASHINGTON, July 16, 2015 – The story behind Cirque du Soleil’s “Varekai,” coming to the EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Virginia July 22 to July 26, is one of journey and destination.

“It is about self discovery and reaching farther than you can grasp and allowing your self to fail, fall down and get back up again,” Emily Carragher who performs as Clown Feminine says. “My character tries so hard, but she falls – and then gets back up.”

“And that is more important “

Emily Carragher -  Mooky publicity still (all rights reserved by artist)
Emily Carragher – Mooky publicity still (all rights reserved by artist)

30 year-old Carragher, one of the shows two narrators – Clown Feminine and Clown Masculine – has had her own journey. As a child, there were dance classes in both modern and ballet. Then as a teen it was drama classes and high school theater all of which the actor and comedienne credits with helping her to learn to express herself physically.

“Growing up, I liked anything dramatic, the challenge of telling a story through movement,” Carragher says. “ I went to circus camps, and took a circus class during college during which the teacher recommended clown school and I went the summer before I graduated and I got my first job at Ringling Bros.”

Unlike Ringling’s cars filled with clowns, Carragher’s clown, called Mooky after the character’s creator Mooky Cornish, is one of only two clowns that inhabit this wonderful world.

A very short clown act from Varekai feauturing Mooky Cornish and Claudio Corneiro, Cirque du Soleil

Carragher’s sees Mooky as a very empowered feminine character who speaks to the audience, particularly young girls. But she is not your typical show girl with a big red nose.

“She is not traditional show girl shaped, she represents the every woman standing on a stage with the world’s super toned and well chisled people” Carragher says. “She is full figured… and she is different than the other women in the show and I take that as a big responsibility. My smile is the connection I make. It’s the first thing I see, and it is everything.”

She describes her role as being a show within a show.

“The character and I are very similar, each findng the truth in the story playing out on the stage,” Carragher says. “Mooky’s story is the story of a wannabe show girl, someone who dreams bigger than they can hope to reach. But she is also very much an empowered character starting one place and landing someplace else.”

Mooky’s role is to guide us as we watch the whimsical and enchanted creatures that inhabit a captivating forest where the performers seemingly defy gravity and physical constraints.

Varekai, which means “wherever” in Romanian, takes place at the summit of a volcano where a world unique to what we know exists – a world where “something else is possible.”

The story celebrates the nomadic soul via while paying homage to the high-wire acts that take place beneath the more traditional circus tent apex.

Cirque de Soleil brings its trademark strength and physical agility along with incredible imagination to the show’s various acts that include acrobats hurled from Russian swings to fly through the air, contortionists that defy physical constraints, twirling and swinging performers that defy gravity while performing the seemingly impossible, and even a performer who show that even on canes, new heights can be reached.

We watch as a young man named Icarus, borrowed from Greek mythology, lands in the shadows of the forest, meeting the fantasy creatures that take us, as viewers, on to a journey that moves from the absurd to the delightful to the unbelievable.

Icarus, like his namesake, who flew too close to the sun only to plummet into the sea below, has been hurt in his fall. The journey he takes leads him to accept this odd world while overcoming his fear of the different forest denizens he meets.

And, like that Icarus of Greek mythology, our Icarus may learn a bit of humility as he meets The Betrothed, a creature of great beauty. She guides Icarus, and in her giving to the young stranger, discovers her own metamorphosis.

Looking over all that live in the forest of Varekai is The Guide, a wise old man who guides the changes that are necessary for the journey that Icarus is on.

And Mooky is there to guide the audience’s journey of discovery through Varekai.

“One of the more powerful scene is called Nightmare, and it is the most important scene as Icarus meets with the crippled angel. In this scene Icarus sees himself in both the future and present and he is taught what will happen if he does not get up and walk. Move forward,” Carragher says. “Like Icarus Mooky gets knocked down and comes back even stronger. She gets the last laugh.”

Which is important for a clown.

“There is no fourth wall between us and the audience, and when I see young kids in the audience I recognize that I was that kid, and I was in awe, and I hope to do the same for kids,” Carragher says.

Carragher describe Mooky as playful and like many a young child, wants to have a good time. She is very happy, playing against her partner, who is very serious.

“Clown Masculine is much more serious that Mooky,” Carragher says. “And because he is so serious, he create a perfect counter to Mooky’s playfulness.”

Varekai is the creation of a large crew and cast working behind the scenes including:

Guy Laliberté, founder and creative guide, Dominic Champagne, writer and director, Andrew Watson, director of creation, Stéphane Roy, set designer., Eiko Ishioka, costume designer, Violaine Corradi, composer and musical director, Michael Montanaro and Bill Shannon, choreographers, Jacque Paquin, acrobatic equipment and rigging designer, Cahal Mccrystal, clown act creator, François Bergeron, sound designer, Nol Van Genuchten, lighting designer, Francis Laporte, image and projection designer, Nathalie Gagné, makeup designer and André Simard, acrobatic performance designer.

If attending the show with children, first visit the biography pages of these talented people and discuss how they would contribute to a show like Varekai and then have them watch to see if they can see the work of a make up artist, hear the sounds of a sound designer, or marvel at the unique costumes that help to tell a story while allowing the performers to be able to move.

EagleBank Arena Schedule for Varekai  (July 22 – 26, 2015):

Wednesday, July 22 at 7:30pm
Thursday, July 23 at 7:30pm
Friday, July 24 at 4pm and 7:30pm
Saturday, July 25 at 4pm and 7:30pm 
Sunday, July 26 at 1:30pm and 5pm

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