Circus Days

17 Apr

Jojo Circus Tent on the Rappenhof

Jojo Circus Tent on the Rappenhof

It’s been quiet on our front, unless you’ve been following my Tumblr. I promise you the silence is about to change.

It always goes a bit quiet when I go away to my circus school. In a nutshell: last year I began a circus apprenticeship like no other! Once every 1-2 months, circus people from all over Germany travel down to Schwäbisch Gmünd / Gschwend to the Jojo School for Circus and Theater Arts. I am training there to be a circus & theater pedagogue, and in June I will be done and get my degree.

I drove to the circus school with my friend Hannes, here posing with his new baby. He'll be living in his car all summer while he tours major European cities and does street performances. You can't miss him: he's 2 meters tall

I drove to the circus school with my friend Hannes, here posing with his new baby. He’ll be living in his car all summer while he tours major European cities and does street performances. You can’t miss him: he’s 2 meters tall

Each week at the circus school is dedicated to a different circus discipline. So far we’ve covered acrobatics, aerial artistry, juggling (I missed it because I was in Perú, so I’ll be taking that course in July) and clowns. Last week, we dipped more into the theater world… into body theater!

waiting for class to begin

waiting for class to begin

We began with lessons on performance make-up. First the teacher painted on me to prove her point: on the right side, you’ll see that lighter colours make my eyes smaller, while on the left, the darkness makes my left eye larger.


We had great fun painting on one another.





Body theater, also known as figuration, is all about using your body to portray inanimate objects. So, contrary to pantomime, wherein you make your audience believe you have something in your hands, in body theater, you are the thing you have in your hands.

The most popular example is: use your body to portray a towel. We spent large portions of the days pretending to be coats which were then worn by others… Or doors, that were opened… Or chairs that were promptly sat on.

But the real excitement is that in body theater, the inanimate objects are given life. A door will have a character. A coat could love to be worn, thus making coat & wearer look like two best friends going for a stroll. A chair could hate being sat on, and pulls a face or whinges.

a group portraying a woman sitting on a machine in the fitness studio

a group portraying a woman sitting on a machine in the fitness studio

can you guess the machine here?

can you guess the machine here?

Our teacher, Günther Fortmeier, was brilliant, absolutely fun, and if you want to find out more about him, here’s his website:

He gave us basic lessons in pantomime (pulling the rope… walking behind the wall… throwing a bubble). Best quote: “Your feet are the machines of your brain. Keep them in action. Always keep the machine running!”

Günther teaching us how to portray a wall

Günther teaching us how to portray a wall

At the end of the week, we were split into groups and given a slip of paper with instructions for a body theater piece. Our paper said: Alarm Clock, Get Dressed, Go For a Ride, Museum, Go Home, Television / Sleep. We had two lessons (approx. 4 hours) to write down a choreography and rehearse it. Occasionally, a teacher would pop by to see how far along we were, give us some ideas and direct a bit, and leave us again to cause trouble on our own.

On Thursday afternoon, we performed for the entire class. For you, I filmed our piece! So that you can get a basic idea of body theater / figuration… Now, remember I warned you: we portray everything with our bodies. An unenlightened person will think we’re complete nutters. You, however, understand exactly what’s going on.

Have fun?

Every Thursday evening is Open Stage Night at the Jojo Circus School. It’s created 100% by the students; the teachers just come, watch and enjoy. Sometimes someone will perform an excerpt from their show, but mostly the Open Stage is full of jugglers or acrobats who teamed up at the beginning of the week and rehearsed all week. We try to incorporate the things we learnt, so this Open Stage was full of pantomime & body theater.

I signed up for my first aerial performance at the Open Stage. Because the main tent was always occupied for classes, I couldn’t rehearse until Thursday afternoon, so I was quite nervous. My good friend & roommate Lothar did a bit of excellent directing and thus boosted my confidence tremendously. So I asked him to be backstage before I go on, which he was, and he gave me a massive hug.

Lothar & I at a stilts workshop on Tuesday night

Lothar & I at a stilts workshop on Tuesday night

Jojo Circus Tent on the Rappenhof

again: the tent where we held our Open Stage

A friend filmed my performance for the blog. Unfortunately it’s a bit dark, we didn’t have a spotlight operator that night and I wore black. But I trust you can still see enough. I wish you very happy viewing!

Our next module in June will be our last. At the end of it, we’ll graduate as circus & theater pedagogues. Some people are talking about doing the additional courses, not just for the learning value but also as a way to see each other again…

It will be very hard to say goodbye.

cuddle puddle

cuddle puddle

But before that happens…


Official Press Picture

Official Press Picture

On the 14th (Friday) and 15th (Saturday) June at 8pm, my class will graduate, and our graduation ceremony is a circus performance in the Big Top. That’s right! Over 10 days in June, we’ll write, prepare and rehearse a splendid evening show JUST FOR YOU.

It will take place at the very place where we’ve been receiving our circus lessons: the Rappenhof by Gschwend (near Schwäbisch Gmünd). We’re a bit in the middle of nowhere, but any car navigation system will find it. Also, we offer bus shuttles leaving from Schwäbisch Gmünd to bring you here.



Tickets cost € 10 for adults;  € 5 for children

Overnight Opportunity: You can choose to spend the night in a 2-bedroom (adults: € 15 / children: € 12) OR in the Big Top Tent (adults: € 5 / children: € 4) OR in a circus caravan with shower & electricity (adults: € 8 / children: € 4).

Food:  Breakfast is € 5, lunch is € 8, dinner is € 6. On Saturday, there will be a buffet for € 12, where you’ll wine & dine with us and party afterwards but! the buffet doesn’t open until approx. 10:30 pm, so bring a snack. Breakfast on Sunday is € 5.

DVD:  You can order a DVD of our performance for € 10.

If you know already that you want to come, then SEND ME AN EMAIL ( and I’ll book your room / caravan / tent space for you. Be sure to tell me in your email if you want food, the DVD, and how many tickets I should reserve for you.

Here’s a thing: my mother will be flying in from Peru to see this show. So if you’ve been to my performances and have seen my father, here’s your chance to meet my mother.

If you have any questions, write me at or over twitter (@rittisoncco), because those are the instant messages I receive the quickest.

I’m working on a flyer for our performance. Once it’s done, I’ll post it and you can download it, send it to your friends, and they can all come and have a ball! I’ll introduce you to the lovely circus people, and trust me, the performance will be stunning. We have a very lovely & talented group.


Last night, I began working with musician & sound artist Jens Krijer on an AUDIO BOOK for Qayqa!

Jens directing

Jens directing

When I asked on the blog what you’d like as a reward for my crowdfunding, one of the things you said was that you’d like an audio book of Qayqa.

I want to give that to you. I’m going to give you an audio book work-in-progress of however far we get.

We want to record the entire book, and have calculated that that would be a box set of 6 CDs! But we’ve only just begun, and while we’re on fire to do an audio book, it’s momentarily a side-project because publishing the book Qayqa has priority.

So if you back my crowdfunding project, you’ll get an exclusive sneak-peak of the upcoming Qayqa audio book! Everyone else will have to wait months for it.

pink buttons!

pink buttons!

2013-04-16 22.54.42

I’ll be filming the crowdfunding video soon, so that we can kickstart the kickstarter! Again, if you want immediate updates, follow my Tumblr!

That’s it from me for now, dear friends. You’ll be hearing more from me soon. The summer is beginning, I’m cracking my bones, and I’m feeling a new energy. This was the harshest, longest, darkest winter of my life. I’ve never known loneliness like this before. I couldn’t even work.

But you see: I’m getting back to work now.

As always, I love your comments. You can reach me here – or email / tweet / facebook me anytime. I’m here.



3 Responses to “Circus Days”

  1. Gerhard April 19, 2013 at 3:23 am #

    These are great pictures and videos. It must have been an amazing week for you. That`s were you must feel comfortable. To meet people that are coming together from all over Germany for the same reason and passion.
    It`s good that you did overcome the winter tristesse and that you have new energy. Never feel lonely because you have your readers. Life is not always full of energy. Reflect and lay back, but then come back on stage or blog with your personality and express your minds. You`ve already proved with your post that you do exactly this.

    • rittisoncco April 25, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

      “Never feel lonely because you have your readers.”

      I often feel certain that it’s my readers who teach me how to be a writer. Thank you for this.


  1. Let’s Have a Crowdfunding Party! | A Journal on Being a Writer - May 18, 2013

    […] Rappenhof!  I’ll be performing on the silks and figuration (I posted a video of figuration here), but we’ll also have excellent juggling, trapeze, clowns, and much much […]

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