Steve Rawlings Interview

Steve Rawlings is a highly successful British comedy juggler. David Cain interviewed him so that we can all get to know him and his work better.
DC: Would you please tell our readers a bit about yourself apart from your juggling? (Family, hobbies, etc.)

SR: I married my amazing wife Rita 36 years ago, just before I started performing for a living. We have one son, Jay, who is now also a professional juggler. I live in a village in Oxfordshire in the UK and when I’m not juggling there’s nothing I like more than spending time with my family, taking the dogs on long walks in the countryside, and looking after my garden. It’s a great way to relax after the stresses of travel and Showbiz.

DC: When and how did you get started juggling?

SR: When I left school, I had no direction in my life , so I tried many jobs and didn’t seem to fit anywhere. I eventually ended up as a lifeguard at a holiday park where I was pushed into going on stage in the theatre. It was as if a light bulb was switched on and I knew that’s where I wanted my future to be. I found a juggling workshop in central London and, as I had previously taught myself to juggle 3 balls during a very boring civil service job, it seemed like a good idea.

DC: Did you have any jugglers that inspired or mentored you?

SR: Mitch Mitchelson and Doug Orton from the group Original Mixture, who ran the workshop were extremely encouraging and helpful and it was through them that I met my great friend and mentor Pearse Halpenny. His encyclopedic knowledge and enthusiasm gave me my love for juggling and it’s history. He always encouraged me to look at things differently which was advice I have followed throughout my career.

DC: Can you tell us about your juggling journey so far?

SR: I was never a natural juggler, but what I did have was stubbornness and determination. Once I set my mind on something, I never give in , which is not always a good thing as my wife will tell you. From very early on, I wanted to connect with the audience by using objects they can identify with. Whether it’s a China plate, tables and chairs, or bottles and glasses, I’ve found it makes the experience more real for the audience. I also really enjoy accomplishing something that everyone tells me is impossible. This all came together in an eight person juggling show that I wrote and directed with my wife Rita that did really well when we took it to the Edinburgh Festival.

DC: What have been some of your career highlights?

SR: Some of the most special moments in my career include: starring in the West End production of Sugar Babies alongside Mickey Rooney and Anne Miller, which was my first big break; doing my fire routine on my first ever TV show, Saturday Night Live in the UK ; being part of the very first show for the troops in Afghanistan; touring my own show in Germany; and appearing on the Royal Variety show in the presence of the Queen and Prince Philip.
DC: What are your current plans for your performing future?
SR: I’ve recently got very into working with ball and mouthstick, and am currently working on a new big balance with a table and chair which I’m hoping won’t kill me. Show wise, I’m very happy with how my career has progressed and I’d like to find time to tour my solo show in Europe again soon.
DC: What do you like the best about the juggling community?

SR: Since my earliest days of juggling to now I’ve always found the juggling community to be warm friendly and willing to share. So as much as I’ve got from the community I’ve always tried give back by mentoring and sharing my experiences.

DC: Having been around the juggling world for a while, what do you make of the changes that have happened in juggling since you started.

SR: I started juggling before the advent of the internet. Knowledge was scarce and sometimes closely guarded. There were no circus schools in the UK and the only good props had to be imported from America. You either had to see someone doing something and try and work out what they did, or track them down and pester them until they gave in, which they didn’t always do back then. Since the arrival of the internet and the explosion of interest in juggling, the availability of knowledge has pushed the technical level through the roof, even if you don’t know any jugglers, you can learn online and become part of the community that way. This has brought the world of juggling and jugglers closer together and pushed the craft to a level I never even dreamed of.

DC: What jugglers from the past and present do you most admire and why?

SR: The jugglers I’ve most admired are Kris Kremo, whose VHS video we watched until it wore out, Kara, whose picture of him juggling furniture inspired to recreate that routine, and Doctor Hot and Neon, who were the first to show us that you could do a full evening’s show with just juggling and still keep it entertaining. Finally Chris and Alex (Chris Adams and Alex Dandridge), who are still one of my favourite juggling acts. More recently people like Jeton, Ernesto Montego, and Michael Chirrick, for their excellence in their particular genres.

DC: What advice would you share with someone starting out who wanted to juggle for a living?

SR: If you want to do this for a living, remember that at it’s heart, juggling is just showing off. You have to find a way to connect with your audience and make them care.
DC: What are some of the best Youtube links of you that you’d like to share?
Fire and bottle balance

Tricks and stunt collection

Latest promo video

Spiegeltent spot in German

Double hat routine with Jay

David Cain is a professional juggler, juggling historian, and the owner of the world's only juggling museum, the Museum of Juggling History. He is a Guinness world record holder and 15 time IJA gold medalist. In addition to his juggling pursuits, David is a successful composer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and singer as well as the author of twenty-four books. He and his children live in Middletown, OH (USA).

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