Showing posts with label Risley Juggling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Risley Juggling. Show all posts

Friday, May 26, 2023

The Kiraku Brothers in Australia 1935


The Kiraku brothers, Risley performers who juggled with their feet, arrived in Australia in March 1935. The pair, Kamejiro Yoshida, aged 38, and Hirokichi Fuji, 35, were imported from London where they were performing regularly in theatres and music halls.

Hiro was from Gefu and had been apprenticed to an acrobatic troupe, The Hamamura troupe, by his uncle when he was ten. Kamejiro, from Kyoto, the older performer, was also a graduate of the same school. Both were sons of farmers and they had travelled the world as acrobats since they were children.

Tivoli owner Frank Neil paid a bond of 200 pounds to insure them before they appeared on Australian stages. He also committed to providing food, clothing and medical care and swore that their appearance would incur no cost to the Commonwealth.

Signed photo in my collection

Their first performances were in Western Australia, and they were sensational.

They took the stage costumed in tennis gear. Kamejiro- the older and stockier, in blue coat and trousers  and Hiro in a quirky hat with yellow buttonhole. Hiro provided the laughs, whilst Kamejiro was the base. The act began with Hiro performing some handsprings, then Kamejiro lay on his back on a couch and began to twirl his partner with his feet. The hardest trick was the foot to foot, where Hiro performed a full somersault landing with his feet on Kamejiro’s feet.

 Kamejiro then moved to the floor where he caught Hiro on his hands and ‘while supporting him in an upright position, rolled across the stage.’ The reviewer of the show was astounded by this feat of strength.

The Kirakus were immensely popular in Western Australia, but their stay was short. They were due to tour the east coast in a revue, Birds of the Night. However, before they left the west, Hiro authored an article for the local paper. In it, Hiro said that he preferred to be identified as a gymnast rather than an acrobat, as acrobats wore tights whilst he and Kamejiro wore flannels. He also detailed long and painful training sessions, broken bones, cut lips, concussions and endless hours of practice. He described his partner, who he called Kame, as like his brother and both as ‘happy go lucky.’ The full article is here.

From the newspapers- probably in costume

 In the last week of their stay in Perth, Hiro sprained a tendon in his foot, but he performed the next night with a smile. He had been on stage since childhood and was well acquainted with the painful repercussions of the Risley life.

The pair arrived in Melbourne in April. They were immediately employed in the revue ‘Birds of the Night,’ which starred Mrs Frank Neil. They were described as ‘probably the finest acrobatic turn ever presented at this theatre,’ and were undoubtedly the stars of the show.

They performed in Sydney in July and were warmly greeted. They stayed for the whole month and left the country in August.

Although their visit was brief, the Kirakus were widely regarded as one of the best Risley acts to perform in Australia. Their reception was particularly warm in Western Australia where they were photographed and interviewed. Their association with the Tivoli Theatre ensured their success with Australian audiences.

They returned to England and performed in pantomime and variety until 1940. Hiro was interned during the war while it appears that Kamejiro returned to Japan. Hiro died in England in 1968.

I used this excellent website about Japanese performers as a contributing source for this article.


Saturday, April 30, 2022

The Kremo Family in Australia.


Between June and October 1910 the most accomplished Risley act in the world, The Kremo family, visited Australia.

It was Harry Rickards, the legendary owner of the Tivoli who brought them to Australia, and it was Cinquevalli, the equally legendary juggler, who persuaded him to do so.

Rickards was in Blackpool England, chatting to his good friend and reliable money maker, Paul Cinquevalli when the juggler introduced him to Silvester Kremo. Rickards checked out the act and invited Silvester and his family to Australia. It took 5 years for them to get here, because they were so popular.

10 members of the Kremo family arrived in Sydney in June 1910 including Silvester, the leader, his wife, Victor and  Leon, who were twins, Eugenie, Ella, Emma, Frances and an infant.

The Kremos were experts in Risley work,  acrobatics with the feet. Their specialty was tossing a human being from one person lying on their back to another lying on their back . The youngster who was tossed like a football during the Australian tour was not a relative, because, as Silvester told a reporter, ‘even the most obliging of parents cannot be expected to keep up a supply of light youngsters.’

The four sisters were interviewed in Sydney, and were full participants in the show. They practised every day, but they told reporters that practice was like play to them. Eugenie, the eldest, was the only woman in the world who laid on the cushion and juggled people

They played in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide and were greeted with wild applause in every city.

In Melbourne the performance was described as;

A stage filled with whirling, bounding, spinning figures whose gold spangled vestments are a blaze of light

The turn included a bit where three Kremos laid on their back and tossed three other Kremos from one to the other. A small boy, dressed in a checkered costume was a highlight, as he was thrown from Kremo to Kremo like a rubber ball .

The Kremos stayed in Australia until October when they sailed away for another 6 years of solid bookings.

The poor quality photos are from contemporary newspapers.