We caught up with 'The hilarious Nancy Trotter Landry’ (Time Out New York) for a chat over a cup of tea in her charming burgundy painted caravan.
Nancy, how did you first discover Giffords Circus?
I grew up locally here in the Stroud Valleys and first saw Giffords Circus in 2002 – with Rebecca Townsend vaulting on her horse and Kwabana Lindsay tightrope walking - it was magical and so different, I felt an instant pull.
One of the first shows that I saw was at Minety in 2002 and I remember it being muddy and getting my car stuck - a dreamy Toti came and rescued me and I remember saying to him as I drove away “can I come and work for you?”
After that I left random messages on Nell Gifford’s phone, but forgetting to leave my number for her to call back! I was working in a riding centre on the Isle of Skye at the time. Eventually Nell said come and work at Folly Farm, where the circus was based at the time, where it was bitterly cold. I remember lying on my back underneath the wagons painting them with red oxide thinking ‘this is really hard work’ but I persevered and did lots of things for a bit and then found my path when a dancer couldn’t do the 2003 show and I said to Nell ‘I can do that, I love dancing’ - the rest is history!
You are very local having grown up in Stroud and going to the village school in Bisley then Deer Park School in Cirencester, where did this passion for performance come from?
My mum and dad are both artistic but not performers, although my dad is probably that way inclined! Mum knew how much I loved Giffords Circus when we both came to see it in 2002, I think she was already waving me goodbye in her mind! My parents love Giffords and they are very proud that I am here and what I do, they’ve been completely supportive of my career.
You haven’t appeared in Giffords Circus every year?
I did 2003 as a dancer, then 2004 Pearl – the year that Tweedy joined. Then 2005 the Cockerel Show – Angela de Castro directed it and by then Tweedy and I were playing around a bit more with comedy.
Angela de Castro who directed the Cockerel Show in 2005 and Tweedy suggested I apply to study at the Jacques Lecoq School of Theatre in Paris as I wanted to learn more about physical comedy, comedy is something that I have always loved. So, I moved to Paris in 2005 to 2007 naively not knowing anything about the school or speaking French! A brilliant way to learn French as it was a mime school! (at this point Nancy has a fit of giggles!)
It wasn’t really – mime was just a small part of it - but they did use the word pelvis a lot - ‘bassin’.
It was a very serious, vigorous school and I loved it and lapped it up. It demanded a lot both physically and emotionally, but it was such a joy to study and I loved it.
I came back to Giffords for the 2008 tour before moving to London in 2009 to explore acting and different avenues that were now open to me following my studies.
In 2011 my good friend and clown, Mooky introduced me to Cal McCrystal at the opening of his acclaimed ‘One Man Two Governors’ show in the West End, it was the first year that he was directing Giffords Circus. So, as I was just twiddling my thumbs in London, I asked Cal if I could join the 2012 tour The Saturday Book and I loved it, I did an act with doves.
I have since appeared in 2013 Lucky 13, 2014 The Thunders, 2016 The Painted Wagon and now this year 2018 My Beautiful Circus.
You’re closer than ever to Tweedy the Giffords Circus clown in this year’s performance?
I am so happy with what we are doing this year, basically since 2004 when we first worked together I’ve admired Tweedy and love working with him. I’m as much a fan of his work just like the thousands of children (and grownups) who come to Giffords Circus.
I’ve done some fun things in the Circus over the years but this year I really get to play around with Tweedy and I feel very privileged. Cal is such a generous director, he is a font of comic ideas and hands out gags and jokes that performers get love and admiration for.
Describe the Giffords Circus audience?
The Giffords Circus audience is the reason we come back as performers – it’s such a privilege to work for a company that has such a loyal following with such an amazingly attentive audience.
Behind the scenes what would we find you doing?
I love partying and dancing, I really love dancing, but you’d probably find me in my caravan just sitting listening to music and making my space nice and cosy to be in and having a lot of alone time to be honest!
What are you looking forward to this year?
I’m looking forward to enjoying the show, at this stage I feel like My Beautiful Circus and what I’m doing in the show is probably the ‘most true to me’ role than I’ve done at Giffords. The songs I am singing this year, mum used to play at home on tapes when I was growing up and are just lovely to sing. There’s plenty of silliness and I just adore it!
Find out more about Nancy by visiting www.nancytrotterlandry.com