By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 0 Comments
MONTREAL – The world-renowned Cirque du soleil will be meeting with staff on Wednesday…
MONTREAL – The world-renowned Cirque du soleil will be meeting with staff on Wednesday amid reports that up to 600 people could be laid off.
Renee-Claude Menard, the Cirque’s senior director of public relations, said today she would not comment about layoff speculation until the staff meeting.
Menard and Cirque president Daniel Lamarre have been quoted in media reports as saying the organization is reviewing its operations and that it needs to adjust its business model after years of strong growth.
It currently is operating 19 shows worldwide.
Four others have closed recently although the organization’s website lists a slate of international premieres in January.
The Cirque employs about 5,000 people worldwide, including 2,000 at its head office in Montreal.
By Adnan R. Khan - Monday, January 14, 2013 at 9:17 AM - 0 Comments
A Maclean’s correspondent becomes a clown in hostile territory
In the long and colourful history of wacky ideas, this one ranks somewhere near the top: buy a three-wheeled, motorized rickshaw from Afghanistan, paint it in wild colours, and drive it 8,000 km through Pakistan and Iran to Istanbul, putting on a circus for children along the way.
When my partner, Annika Schmeding, a petite, blond German and I—Pakistani by birth, but as Canadian as they come—came up with the plan, most people in Kabul looked at us as if we were from a planet populated by insane clowns. “Are you nuts?” asked a former Australian soldier turned freelance security adviser. “You’ll never make it alive.”
Others wrote us off as dreamers who, after many months in the pressure-cooker environment of the Afghan capital, had perhaps become a little unhinged. They weren’t entirely wrong. After so much time dealing with the dysfunction and greed of the international development community, where schools are built without teachers to fill them, proposals written not to address Afghan needs but simply to cater to donors, madness can be a refuge for the sane. Continue…
By Brian Bethune - Thursday, June 11, 2009 at 1:00 PM - 0 Comments
On the eve of Cirque du Soleil’s 25th anniversary, a new book exposes the stunning rise and wild times of its billionaire founder
As it approaches its 25th anniversary on June 16, Cirque du Soleil is solidly entrenched as one of Canada’s greatest entertainment and business success stories. From its almost mythic origin as the creation of a group of young Québécois idealists, hard-working, hard-living, utopian-minded street performers led by a (literal) fire-breather named Guy Laliberté, the Cirque and its postmodern, animal-free productions now span the globe. Laliberté, who used to sleep in parks while performing for spare change, parlayed his extraordinary drive and ambition—and rode the wave of Quebec nationalism unleashed by the Parti Québécois election victory of 1976 (premier René Lévesque was a crucial early Cirque supporter)—into becoming one of Quebec’s six billionaires. On the eve of his 50th birthday, Laliberté’s $2.5-billion personal fortune now puts him at number 261 in Forbes’ ranking of the world’s richest people.
As for the Cirque’s other founding mythology—that its long, strange trip has always been a sex- and drug-fuelled odyssey, according to Guy Laliberté: The Fabulous Story of the Creator of Cirque du Soleil (Transit)—rumour hardly exceeds reality. Author Ian Halperin, a journalist and gossip writer whose previous unauthorized biographies include Céline Dion: Behind the Fairytale and Love & Death: The Murder of Kurt Cobain, argues that a heady ’60s mix of hedonism and social consciousness has always marked the Cirque. Halperin, a Montrealer, is from that world—he had an uneasy platonic relationship with Laliberté’s embittered ex-common-law wife, described at length in the book, even as he eventually sided with Laliberté in their split—and he approves of his subjects’ zest for life. Especially Laliberté’s, of whom Halperin writes that he shares the author’s own “unquenchable thirst for life’s pleasures balanced with a passion for social justice, traits we know are not incompatible.”