Well we’re definitely getting closer to finding out how THE IMMORTAL CIRCUS ends. Episode four (of five) released last week and all I can say right now… since it’s not my turn to review it… is that the author is such a tease. There are so many questions that I have to wait for the final episode to have answered. Talk about building up to a climatic conclusion. Episode five is going to be insane. In an amazing way, of course.
This is now the seventh (of ten) weeks of THE IMMORTAL CIRCUS Blog Tour and I really hope that Hannah of In the Best Worlds and I have managed to convince you to VOTE for the SUMMER COURT. Our reputations… and possibly our blogs… depend on it.
King Oberon is not someone I’d call forgiving. And he does control the publishing industry. So you see our predicament. We don’t want to be banished from reading – or receiving – the books we love. So, please consider casting your vote for SUMMER!
This week I have an extra special blog post from the author. It’s the first part of an interview he conducted with Annabel “Banana” Morgan of Clowns Without Borders South Africa, an organization that’s near and dear to his heart… and yes he may have used those words but I said the exact same thing.
There is a lovely note from Alex and – believe it or not – our dear King Oberon has been kind enough to make the introduction.
The second part of the interview will be revealed tomorrow at The Bookish Brunette, so be sure to stop by there to check it out. And even though that post is equally as awesome, I still highly recommend casting your vote for SUMMER!
I have been in conference with Queen Mab, and we have decided to take a week off from our quarrel to invite Alex back to discuss something of great importance to both our Courts. Unheard of, I understand, especially so close to the end of our tour. But worry not! Next week we will be back to our competition.
A Note from Alex…
As Oberon said, this week we’re doing things a little differently. Summer and Winter are pairing up to fully cover something rather near and dear to my heart: giving back.
When I first started writing, I made the promise to myself that I’d give a percentage of whatever I made from my books to some sort of charity. Preferably, a charity somewhat related to the book’s topic. But what charity relates to the circus?
Thankfully, this past summer I met with a girl working for an amazing orgnization that blends humanitarian outreach with circus arts. The group? Clowns Without Borders South Africa. There are many chapters all over the world, and when she shared what she did, I knew I wanted to help out.
So, today and tomorrow I’m sharing the interview I had with her. It’s definitely worth a read to learn more about this amazing foundation, and I highly recommend visiting their site and helping the cause. They make real change in the lives of the children and adults they work with, and all of their money goes directly to the dedicated performers/workers in the field.
I’m grateful to be able to support their cause. Because of your awesomeness, I was able to donate $500 to this group, and I plan on giving more as time moves forward. Keep an eye on my site (www.arkahler.com) to learn more about the various charities your support of my work is aiding. Let’s keep the good energy flowing!
Interview with Annabel “Banana” Morgan (Pt 1)
During my time with The Circus Village, I had the opportunity to get to know Annabel, an amazing girl from South Africa who works for a very special relief organization, Clowns Without Borders South Africa (CWBSA). One afternoon, she graciously sat down with me in the cafe tent and allowed me to interview her.
Alex: First off, thanks for talking with me about CWBSA. Could you briefly tell us about the organization and how you became involved?
Annabel: Gladly! CWBSA is a humanitarian organization dedicated to bringing emotional relief through laughter and play to communities in crisis in southern Africa. I was ‘clowning around’ in Swaziland when I heard about CWBSA and I thought it brought together everything that I love; the performance and healing aspects through creative expression, playing, and working with children. I came from a performance background, but it wasn’t enough to just perform onstage. CWBSA was my perfect job. It was very serendipitous; I mentioned to a colleague that I wanted to work with them and he said they were doing an audition the next day. I dropped everything and went—I knew this was the work I was destined to do. This was early 2010, I believe.
Alex: From your experiences, what are the effects CWBSA has on the local communities?
Annabel: It’s hard to measure the effects. You just feel it; when the clowns enter a community to do a show, there is an excitement in the village—it’s a time of celebration. We have to be really organized otherwise it becomes chaos; sometimes we perform for over 2k children. I think the best way to describe the effect it has is to just share a few stories.
There was one show we did in the eastern Cape last year, and there was a routine where we needed a volunteer. I picked an 8y/o boy, and during the routine he was one of those volunteers who really just made us look like clowns. It was fantastic. Afterward, the principal came to talk to us and he wanted to thank us, not only for relieving the stress of the teachers, but he said that the young boy was HIV positive and suffered from severe headaches. He’d been out of school the last two weeks and showed up just that day—when the principal asked the boy how he felt after the performance, the kid was all smiles and said he felt amazing.
Those are the kind of stories you hear. Apart from the obvious effect of crowds laughing and jumping off their seats, it’s those individual stories that make you realize you’re just dropping a stone in the water; the ripples are huge. So many of these places are torn apart by poverty or HIV and there is no relief—especially not emotionally. We’re sometimes the only time these people—kids and adults—have to laugh or play or just be happy together.
Sometimes we go back to communities and find out that our songs and skits have spread for kilometers in these rural areas—out there, people don’t have cars, they always walk. It shows our work is really reaching the community in big ways.
Obviously, that’s the performances. When we go back (for ten days in the Njabulo program) we can talk about how things are or are not changing. If they aren’t changing, we problem solve and open up to group discussions so the community can find solutions. For example, one of the most powerful things I’ve heard was a 54 y/old woman caregiver saying ‘ before you came, we thought it was our time to die. Now, we feel alive again.’
* * *
For a fantastic video of what they do, check this out:
Make sure to check out the rest of the interview over at The Bookish Brunette tomorrow!
Firstly, what a generous and amazing thing to be doing, Alex. The cause sounds so worthy and valuable! And what a beautiful story. Being able to bring joy to children alone would be a great gift, but to open up communication in the community to find solutions gives those citizens power over their lives. And that’s a truly special gift.
Thank you Alex and Annabel for sharing.
This interview continues over at The Bookish Brunette tomorrow, so be sure to head over there to check it out.
And if you’d like to learn more – or to donate – please visit Clowns Without Borders South Africa at www.cwbsa.org.
***Just in case you haven’t yet heard about this awesome book and author***
About The Immortal Circus
Tour Schedule – Week Seven
THE IMMORTAL CIRCUS Prize Pack Giveaway includes a signed copy of the book, illustrated trading cards and seriously awesome circus-y goodies.
There are FOUR prize packs up for grabs!
The giveaway is US ONLY.
The giveaway ends Friday, February 15th.
There are a few extra entry opportunities, including the chance to Tweet daily for more chances to win!