A Letter from a Former Student, Creator and Teacher, David Chantler

david - bio

Hi Sigfrido,

I hope this message finds you.

I attended the Estudio Busqueda de Pantomima in 1978-79. We were a group of about 8 people – including Peggy, Bruce, Andy, Ariela.   It was a transformative year for me, performing at the Festival in Guanajuato and touring all over the country, let alone just living in San Miguel.

I was on your website, looking at all of the great things you are doing. What a great life path you have made and followed. 

When I came down to Mexico, I had studied character clowning – in the Richard Pachenko style  – for a few years in Canada. I was thrilled to be able to provide more craft and form to that work by studying with you. After returning to Canada, I started Trickster Theatre, and then returned to Mexico in 1982 to tour with your help.  I have been running Trickster Theatre ever since.  After studying with you, I studied improv in San Fransisco and then actor training with the Odin Theatre in Denmark.  These things – your work, improv. Pachenko clown style and the Odin work are the 4 forces that shaped Trickster Theatre’s style.

We have ended up creating something that is quite unique. We create original shows in schools, with up to 600 actors – in one week. We have now created more than 600 of these shows -over a 25 year period. It is a physical theatre process that combines the object mime style that you taught (like the shower and typewriter pieces that we used to do) with the prop exploration work from the Odin.

I know you have changed many people’s lives over the years, and your training certainly changed mine. I don’t think my company would have ever been as successful without your influence. You also demonstrated a commitment that exemplifies what it means to stay focused and dedicated to an art form. That is important thing to model for students. So, I thank you for all you have done for me.

I stopped performing about 5 years ago, and am now almost 100% focused on producing and directing.  All of those are large cast productions created in a week – many of them in Aboriginal communities.  Our residency program (the week-long process) is one of the largest in Canada. It is easy to trace back the roots of that success to your work. When I left Mexico in 1979 I started performing almost immediately. I turned the pieces that I had created in your studio into a show and was successful right away. The company did more than 4,000 performances over 2 decades, as well as developing the week-long residency program.

Here are a couple of clips of the work we create with students in a week.

https://vimeo.com/channels/314505/107829087  – part of our Kids Go Global Program (linking schools to global issues)

https://vimeo.com/channels/314505/79643873 – also in the Kids Go Global Program

Perhaps the biggest affect your work has had on our work in the last 15 years is a program we call Act2learn.  In that program we show schools how to act out the curriculum by being the components of things. – sound waves, magnetism, chemical reactions, processes. It is all about making the parts of something physical. Our work in that field is now being studied by the University of Calgary and is part of a new curriculum prototype being created with the Calgary Board of Education.  

An interesting thread from the San Miguel days relates to Pierre DeLattre.  I met him and loved his books Walking on Air, and Tales of a Dalai Lama. Trickster created a show loosely based on the ideas in that book, and in 2009 performed for the Dalai Lama in Calgary, Alberta ( our home ) for 18,000 people in the Saddledome Arena. It was another thread that wove back to you, as I met Pierre after a show i did in Guanajuato.

So – I’m very happy to know you are still doing the work that you believe in so much. It changes lives. Thanks for changing mine. 

David Chantler


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