“Rollercoaster” by Wes Peden in Riga

09.01.2023.

“Rollercoaster” is a one-hour solo show by Wes Peden that uses ultra-modern, pop-punk juggling to talk about finding the balance between freedom and security

Surrounded by huge inflatable blue structures and accompanied by electro beats composed of distorted rollercoaster sounds, Peden performs original tricks inspired by rollercoasters and their high-tech seatbelts. A spinning plate ceremony becomes a celebration of the great rides of the past; an epic 3 ball disco juggling evokes the evolution of rollercoasters; a 4-meter transparent tube turns into a path around Wes’ body to make balls flow through loops, helixes, and corkscrews. Rollercoaster twists the stage rules to create a safe space to perform some of the most difficult and unique juggling ever done on stage!

 

When: March 9, 10, 11 at 7PM

Where: Rīgas cirks (Merķeļa street 4)

Duration: 60 minutes

Age guidance: The show is for all audiences but will be most thoroughly enjoyed by ages 7+.


About the show

Wes Peden: “Rollercoasters are the inspiration for both the juggling material that was made for the show as well as the choreographic ideas and theatrical framings that are used. SinceI was a kid, I have felt a connection between creating juggling tricks and rollercoaster design as they both use gravity and momentum to make intricate pathways through the air.


Photos: Eva Lindblad, Fahimeh-Hekmatandish, Einar Kling


Juggling on stage is a very delicate matter. One must always consider the risk to reward balance of performing extremely difficult and precise tricks. This not only limits jugglers from showing some of their best tricks but can also result in quite a stressful atmosphere for the performer and audience.

Rollercoasters, on the other hand, can fearlessly perform their craziest stunts because they have high-tech seatbelt systems to keep their “audience” safe. This has encouraged me to find conditions on stage that work as seatbelts for my juggling with the goal of making a more relaxed atmosphere overall and freeing myself up to perform my favourite and more challenging tricks. For example, in one scenario, I have 5 clubs and will perform my most difficult and unique tricks. Also on stage, I have a mystery box, it’s full of weird toys like darts, balloons, umbrellas, and a hat covered inVelcro. In the act, I attempt the first 5-club trick and if I succeed, I throw a drumstick across the stage to hit a cymbal and I move to the next 5-club trick. If I drop, I immediately abandon the clubs and go straight to the mystery box to do a surprising trick with one of the toys inside

With this method there’s no downside for the audience, If I get the 5-club trick, they get to see something amazing and difficult, If I don’t, they get to see a new prop from the box and a surprising conceptual trick.This seatbelt idea has proven to make the show alive and exciting every night!I have always been jealous of the way rollercoaster tracks can make their trains do vertical loops, corkscrews, and pretzel knots in the air. Making objects change their trajectory mid-flight has always been a goal of mine and researching rollercoasters has only made it more intriguing. I have spent 2 years experimenting with flexible transparent tubes and balls where I can directly translate the loops and helices of rollercoasters into juggling. This has become one of my favourite and most unique pieces of juggling I’ve ever composed as well as being a visually stunning and concrete combination of rollercoaster and juggling manoeuvres.

After reading the book “50 legendary Rollercoasters that no longer exist” I searched online for memorial services for funerals for these rollercoasters. Sadly, nothing was to be found. I realized it was my job to create a ceremony to commemorate these huge momentum machines of the past and celebrate their legacy. I’ve developed a technique with spinning plates where they are perched on sticks that are attached to my fingers. While keeping the plates spinning and wearing ceremonial attire, I trace the paths of these almost forgotten rides and help their memories live on through juggling.”

 

About the artist

Wesley Jefferson Peden (born May 9, 1990) is an American juggler from Rochester, New York, now living in Stockholm, Sweden. His father, Jeff Peden, taught him to juggle when he was five, and started performing with him when he was eleven.

From 2007 to 2010, Wes studied juggling with Jay Gilligan and others at the Dance and Circus University of Stockholm. Wes has been voted the world’s most popular juggler in the Top 40 Jugglers poll ten times (in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, and 2019).

Wes holds the following world records with publicly available video evidence:

6 club half shower: 38 catches in 2012
7 club (8x,6x): 20 catches in 2016
9 ring triplexes: 42 catches in 2017

Wes has won several IJA and WJF competitions.


Tickets: from 18 EUR