Dr. Nina Kane
Years active at Greentop:
2001 – present. I first came into contact with Greentop when I was on the Board at Leeds Children’s Circus. In my time here I have worn several different ‘hats’, including parent of a student on the CAT scheme, MC at various cabarets, and Trustee.
I would say walkabout acapella festival singing. I’m essentially a singing clown, an itinerant hawker. My love of creating these characters grew from my experience as a life model and living sculpture.
Where I am/what I am doing now:
I’m still active in teaching and lecturing when the opportunities present themselves. I’m currently participating in Jonathan Kay’s Nomadic Academy of Fooling, and getting involved with lots of Zoom cabaret events in the gay male and drag performance arena.
A young man happens across a monastery while he is out on a hike one day, and from the otherwise peaceful cloister emanates the most hideous, screeching, yowling sound. Intrigued, the young man hails one of the monks, and asks him what the source of the sound might be. “I’m sorry, I cannot tell you, for only a monk may know” replied the bonze, shaking his head. The young man quite forgot about the incident, until a few weeks later, when his path again took him past the stone façade of the monastic tower. Once again, the loud, high-pitched whining and howling pierced the air. Stopping a more senior priest, the young man saw his chance, and asked the source of the sound. “I’m sorry, I cannot tell you, for you are not a monk”, replied the wizened priest. Now the young man was not easily defeated, and he skirted the walls of the complex, trying to find some peephole or vantage point, but found none. The noise however continued to split the air. Returning home, the young man found himself consumed day and night by this mystery, and eventually resolved to take the tonsure himself, so that the nature of the unearthly sound might at last be revealed. Days merged into weeks, and then into months, as he prayed, read aloud from sacred texts, meditated, rang bells and counted out prayer beads, but his mind was focused only on identifying the source of the sound. Every day he would hear it taunting him with its guttural moans and banshee-like wails. Eventually the day of his ordination dawned, and he could barely contain his anticipation as the ceremonies drew to a close. Approaching his mentor, he asked if he might at last know the source of the sound. Solemnly, the aged, saffron-clad monk led him down ill-lit winding passageways, damp with moss, the stones underfoot slippery and uneven. The sound was becoming louder and louder; so hideous in its tone, it had to be supernatural, surmised the novice. Finally, they came to a small courtyard with three doors leading off it. The sage gestured to the doors, and said only, “Here you will find the source of the sound”. He slipped away, leaving the young man alone. No sooner had he vanished, the young man tore open the first door… to find a tranquil zen garden of stones and shrubs. The sound had become louder and shriller than ever, but the source must lie behind one of the other two doors. The young man reached out and grasped the ornate handle of the second door. Gingerly he turned it, finding it yielded easily under his touch. As he peered expectantly around the second door, he saw… only an elegant pond, filled with golden koi fish, basking lazily in the sun-dappled water. The noise was by now ear-splitting, rattling his teeth in his skull and shaking the very foundations of the monastery. Gathering his every nerve, the young man dived through the third and final door, and at last – wonder of wonders! – he gaped open-mouthed as the source of the sound was finally revealed to him.
What was it?
Oh, I can’t tell you – you’re not a monk… 😉
Quote summarising the impact Greentop has had on your life:
Greentop has provided a home for my daughter Emily to develop something absolutely essential to her ‘circus self’ from a young age. It’s a safe haven and an important space/resource enabling people to grow. As a parent, the community here will always be part of us as an extended family, and I have no doubt that Emily will keep returning. It’s a centre that I want to keep taking care of and helping; we have forged links with other circus communities all over the UK.
Your circus story
As a teacher/university lecturer on the Board of Trustees, I have tried to support and progress Greentop’s home education/alternative education offering, because kids who tend not to flourish in mainstream education do really well here. It can be hard to get kids outside the mainstream into vocational places, but they can express themselves and excel through circus. Provision for home-educated kids is a really important aspect of our timetable – we’re a vital social and community space. The pandemic is showing what we had long suspected – that the narrow curriculum of the ‘exam mill’ actually benefits very few. In post-pandemic schooling, I expect to see a significant shift away from the Victorian classroom, and Greentop is well-placed to provide enriching and affirming alternative education.