Juggler On A Drum

“Inspired by the like of Dr. Norman Bethune, and Canadian Surgeon, communist, and medical innovator who became a hero in Red China. The play juxtaposes key events in Bethune’s life – his struggle with tuberculosis, his on-again, off-again marriage, his front-line work in the Spanish Civil War and the Sino-Japanese War – With poems, juggling, music, and dance. Bethune’s life is brackets throughout by two figures, the Angel of Death and the harlequin. The Angel, a beautiful woman à la Maria Casarès in Jean Cocteau’s Orphée, flirts with Bethune while the harlequin teaches him to juggle and leads him to his fate like the Pied Piper. Although the life-as-circs motif is hardly new, the image of the driven Bethune as juggler, trying to keep aloft his many competing interests – medicine, politics, art – and responsibilities, seems very apt and pays homage to the artist side of the great physician.”

– Excerpt from Wild Theatre by Martin Morrow

The award winning play, Juggler On A Drum explored dance, song, poetry, and circus antics, combined with a realistic throughline to make Juggle On A Drum theatre in the fullest sense of the word.  The work is inspired by the life of Dr. Norman Bethune, and explores his rebellion against the commonplace elements of his society.  

The heights of creative living are celebrated through the metaphorical image of a juggler balanced on a drum, and are juxtaposed with the life and perspective of a man who has been kissed by an angel on his deathbed.  

Image from the 1984 Edmonton Fringe Festival Guide. 

The production ran 2 hours in length.

"A shimmering portrayal of human greatness and frailty..." - Calgary Sun

"...sensitive, richly textured production..." - Calgary Herald

1984 Edmonton Fringe Festival, Edmonton, Canada
1984 ION Centre, Calgary, Canada
1983 Loose Moose Simplex, Calgary, Canada
Written by Gyl Raby and Kirk Miles  •  Choreographed by Denise Clarke  •  Music by Brian Green  •  Design by Nigel Scott
Cast: Denise Clarke, Sheri-D Wilson, Michael Green, George McFaul, and Kirk Miles