October 11, 2009

Laliberte Broadcasts Water Conservation Show From Space

Canadian space tourist and circus billionaire Guy Laliberte hosted a 14-city show from space as part of his crusade to promote clean drinking water and preserve the world's water resources. 

The two-hour live "One Drop" show was broadcast on television and the Internet from the International Space Station.

Laliberte, the founder of Cirque du Soleil and the first clown in space, called his journey a "poetic, social mission."

The 14 segments of the show were broadcast from South Africa, Mexico, Russia, Brazil, Canada, Britain, Japan, France, India, Morocco, Australia, and several U.S. cities.

A segment broadcasted Friday included former vice president Al Gore, Bono, Shakira, Salma Hayek, Peter Gabriel, Canadian astronaut Julie Payette and a musical theatrical performance by Laliberte's circus troupe.

The show began with a reading by Man-Booker prize-winning author Yann Martel, who recited a poem describing a conversation between the Sun, the Moon and a drop of water.  Several others read bits of the fable throughout the show.

Mr. Gore warned of melting polar ice caps, pollution and extreme weather causing droughts and flooding throughout the world.

"To solve the climate crisis and safeguard our planet and its beauty ... will require global effort," he said.

A chat between Laliberte and Bono, who was performing with U2 at a concert in Tampa, was one of the show's most anticipated segments.

Between songs, Laliberte spoke with Bono onstage from orbit via satellite.

"Every time I look down at this fantastic planet (from the International Space Station) ... it looks so fragile," said Laliberte, a former stilt-walker and fire-eater.

Bono described the show as an "out of this world event."

"You are the first clown in space and we think it's a great idea for you to give us your perspective on our little planet while you're not on our little planet and instead looking down on it," the Associated Press quoted Bono as saying.

"How do we look from there, how does our little planet look, Guy?"

Laliberte was later shown trying to drink a drop of water floating in air.

He said his wish that a "ripple effect" from the show would trigger more people to become water conservationists.

Australian singer Tiffany Speight performed at the Sydney opera house, while Inuit singer Elisapie Isaac gave a rousing performance of a haunting song in her native language and rappers Fnaire performed from Morocco.

Crowds danced and cheered in the streets of New York's Times Square, Rio de Janeiro and at other outdoor concerts throughout the world.

The show was aimed at raising awareness for Laliberte's One Drop Foundation, which seeks to raise awareness to the growing shortage of clean water.

The multilingual event combined live and taped segments, with production costs estimated at $6-10 million in addition to the $35 million Laliberte paid to become Canada's first space tourist.

Critics of the extravaganza bemoaned it's high cost, suggesting the money would have been better spent digging wells in Africa.

But others said it was worthwhile for exposing such a vital cause.

Laliberte boarded the international space station on October 2, two days after they took off from the Baikonur space base in Kazakhstan.  U.S. astronaut Jeffrey Williams and Russian cosmonaut Maxim Surayev were also onboard.


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