Q&A with Aman Tamang, performer and circus artist with Cirkus Xante’s As a Tiger in the Jungle

As a Tiger in the Jungle - Winner of the inaugural South East Dance Brighton Fringe Bursary, tells the personal and deeply moving story of three of the company’s Nepalese performers who were trafficked into the circus industry as children. As a Tiger in the Jungle, is a collaboration between Creative Producer Ali Williams (nofitstate, Wales), Director Sverre Waage (Norway) and Cirkus Xanti, a pan Asian-European company who fuse a range of styles, spoken word, ceremony and movement.  

My Name is Aman Tamang and I use my own name in the show. I work with my sister Renu Ghalan and the show is about our story

Where are you from?

We are from Nepal, from villages near the Indian border.

Is this your first Brighton Fringe?

Yes we have never been to Brighton before – it’s great to be performing here thanks to the South East Dance Brighton Fringe Bursary. I think there will be lots of other fun shows to see while we are there but also we are looking forward to the beach because there is no sea in Nepal. We are landlocked so being by the seaside will be very special.

Tell us about your show?

It’s a show that is based on our story of being sold when we were children and trafficked into Indian circus. It’s not just our story but represents over 700 Nepalese children that ended up as slaves in Indian circus. It is about our lives there but it is also about us here and now as professional paid circus artists making a living and working internationally. It is both sad and happy at the same time.

What was the inspiration behind it?

We are the inspiration, it is based on our true stories and is therefore authentic and meaningful.

How did you meet Ali Williams and develop the concept of As a Tiger in the Jungle?

When we were rescued we went to live in Kathmandu and Ali Williams from nofitstate came to work with us to teach us about contemporary circus and how it could be fun and how we could make a living out of the skills we learnt at the circus. She trained us and we started performing in Kathmandu. When we did shows we got paid and realised we could make a career from the skills we learned in India. Then Ali said we could make a show about our story because people in the UK would love to hear it. She left nofitstate after 30 years to work with us and brought us to make the show in the UK.

What was it like making a show about yourself?

Mostly we had great fun but sometimes it was difficult because we had to talk a lot about our time in the Indian circus. That brought back some bad memories. We told our stories and developed our routines and Ali and Sverre (Director) created the show. It took one month to make the show and we worked very hard but at least we got paid!

It sounds like quite a moving show?

Well yes it is very moving, it is both sad and uplifting. It tells our story but in the show we use tigers as a metaphor for the human traffickers and the show is told like a fairy tale. Sometime I worry that people feel sorry for us but now we are free and happy and earning very good money to take home to Nepal so there is no need to feel sorry for us. We want people to know about our story and to understand that slavery still happens in the world today.

What do you hope people take away from the show?

We hope they are emotionally moved by the performance and understand how poverty can affect people. 

As a Tiger in the Jungle appears at the Brighton Open Air Theatre from Wednesday 22nd – Saturday 25th May. For further details or to book click here.

Q&A with Aman Tamang, performer and circus artist with Cirkus Xante’s As a Tiger in the Jungle