Since 1996, Cahal McCrystal has devoted himself full time to creating and directing shows for various European theatre companies. He's one of the few British directors to focus almost exclusively on clown comedies. The clown acts he has created for Zumanity mark his second association with Cirque du Soleil: in 2002, he was part of the creative team that worked on Varekai.
Cahal's plays, written for major British theatre companies such as Spymonkey, Peepolykus, and The Boosh comedy duo, have touched audiences worldwide and kept them rolling in the aisles.
In 2000, his play Stiff, staged for Spymonkey, won the Total Theatre Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It was also named best act at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado. The Mighty Boosh, launched at the 1998 Edinburgh Fringe Festival garnered the Perrier Award for Best New Comedy. Although critics have compared his characters to those of Mel Brooks, Monty Python and the Marx Brothers, Cahal's true goal is to create clowns with their own distinct personalities.
"My job is to bring out the clown in actors and this clown emerges when you play up their personal foibles. This requires a great deal of humility and generosity on the part of the actors. But it's also highly gratifying. We admire people for their successes, but we love them for their weaknesses. That's why we adore clowns—they show us their very human and silly sides!"
Before becoming a full-time director, this graduate of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama had a prolific 15-year acting career in theatre, film, television and radio. In the late '80s, Swiss writer, director and actor Philippe Byland invited Cahal to join his company. It was also in London that Cahal met his future mentor Philippe Gaulier, the dean of French theatre, who cast him in At the End of the Tunnel. One day, he would attend a show that truly blew him away—Cirque du Soleil's We Reinvent the Circus.