The impending arrival of Spring means a few things on the Coast: Time to pry those three-month-old dried out togs off the balcony chair and pop them onto your booty, start getting paranoid about every magpie you see, and – most importantly – Buskers By The Creek is just around the corner! Now we KNOW they always have an epic lineup of superb musicians to treat your ears, and we’ll be drilling down on all of that soon. But let’s not forget that one of the aspects that makes this Currumbin event such a fun and memorable weekend is the street performers. This year, notorious international duo The Flying Dutchmen will be enthralling audiences with their special brand of stunts and comedy, and we caught up with veteran performer Michiel Hesseling ahead of the main event.
How did you and Jean-Michel Paré first find each other?
We met in Halifax, Canada, at the Buskers festival in 1988. I had a solo show and had done three shows at one of the best pitches and was quite tired. Jean-Michel came riding by with his three unicycles, on his way to store them for the night. I asked Jean-Michel if he felt like doing an improv show because he was too tired to do a show alone. We did and it was really fun. The organiser of the festival happened to see the show and invited us back for the year after. I had a 10 week contract in Japan the next spring. I asked if Jean-Michel wanted to come along. He said yes. It was arranged with the Japanese agent and from then on The Flying Dutchmen toured the world.
After 30 years of performing together, you must be like family. What do you think it is about your partnership that works so well, and in what ways do you drive each other crazy?
We are quite different. That works really well in the show, but not always the rest of the time, in the beginning. For a show it is good to have two different characters. So you can play of each other. One is the clown, the other the straight man. In real life, sometimes it is not easy for the clown to deal with the ways of the straight man and vice versa. But we have learned to accept that in each other and realise that when sometimes it can be annoying, it is also what makes the show work.
How do you keep each performance fun for yourselves and stop yourselves from burning out or getting tired?
It is always nice to keep looking for improvements. Even the littlest things. A phrase came out to quickly, the timing of the joke wasn’t good etc. How can we make it better. This is a never ending quest. Also, we perform the show in several languages. English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and Japanese. There are always differences in each show, so it is never the same. The show in Japan is quite different from the show in German for example. This also keeps it fresh. And always looking for new jokes in a foreign language. A challenge, but fun!
What are your favourite tricks to perform?
Skipping rope on a 6 foot unicycle is a fun trick to perform. Juggling 7 balls is always a challenge. So this is always fun, because challenges are fun. 🙂
Have you performed on the Gold Coast before? What’s your history with touring Australia?
We have performed in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Tasmania. But all of them quite a while ago. We have always loved performing in Australia, but since it is so far, we haven’t done it much in the last years. But now the kids are a bit older, so we do some further (and longer) trips.
Is there something you would like to achieve with performance, that you haven’t yet?
Not so much with the performance, since we like what we do. But there is still a lot of festivals we like to work at, that we have heard good stories about. In Australia, for example, the Fremantle festival. In Germany Kleines Fest in Grosses Garten. Hopefully that will work out next year. And most of all, we want to stay in good health, so we can keep on performing for as long as we can, because we love it!
What can Gold Coast audiences expect from your show at Buskers by the Creek?
We have a so called “old school” show. There is lots of tricks and comedy. You can expect a fun show in a relaxed atmosphere. We have been performing together for thirty years. So you can expect a lot of experience on stage!
Catch The Flying Dutchmen as well as an array of other mind-boggling acts, fabulous tunes and delicious food when Buskers by the Creek hits Winders Park, Currumbin on 13 and 14 October 2018. Buskers by the Creek is a FREE, family-event. More at buskersbythecreek.com.au.
IMAGE (c) Marc Chalifoux for EPIC Photography Inc.