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Fletcher Donohue
Photo: D-CORD <Keiju Takenaka> Costumes: Philippe Guillotel  © 2018 Cirque du Soleil

Men’s Artistic gymnast, Trampoline gymnast, stunt man, performer, rower and rowing coach… Is there anything that Fletcher Donohue can’t do? Former Queensland gymnast  Fletcher is currently in Sydney performing in Cirque du Soleil’s, Kurios , a show which explores a Seeker who is convinced that there is a hidden invisible world and in order to see the marvels that lie beneath the surface, the characters attempt to ignite his imagination. 

Fletcher started gymnastics when he was just 3 years old, in a KinderGym program at a gymnastics club in Perth. After a few years he took up Men’s Artistic Gymnastics and soon after was invited to train at the Western Australia Institute of Sport. Thanks to his sister being involved in the sport of trampoline, Fletcher had been doing some training for the gym sport in his spare time, when he decided to stop artistic gymnastics and focus on trampoline, describing the reason for sticking with trampoline as the sport being “more me”. By this time, the Donohue family was living in Brisbane and Fletcher's new gymnastics home was Robertson Gymnastics, with coaches Darren Gillis and Danielle Horne. 

Over the course of his trampoline career, Fletcher competed at multiple World Age Competitions and at only 18 years of age, he ticked off his ultimate sporting goal, to compete for Australia at a Senior World Championships on Double Mini Trampoline.

Trampoline World Championships Team
Fletcher Donohue with the 2013 World Championship team (middle row, far right)

In addition to training up to 5 times a week for international trampoline events, Fletcher was also rowing 4 times a week in the mornings.

“I would wake up at 4.45am, do rowing, do school, drive for 50 minutes to get to Robertson Gymnastics, do training, then I would be so hyped up from training I would do my homework. Sleep and repeat.”

You might think that having all of this on his plate would have affected his grades at school, but quite the opposite, picking up an all-rounder award and multiple sporting awards at his year 12 graduation.

During year 12, Fletcher was also doing courses to work as a stunt man once he graduated. After getting nationally accredited at the age of 19, Fletcher landed his first Stunt Man role in the Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Men Tell No Tales.

“My kids if I ever have any, will definitely be doing gymnastics just because it teaches you discipline, it teaches you time management, as well as all round physicality and the core strength that you get from gymnastics at such a young age can be used later on in any sport or in life in general. I feel like my body is much better off from doing gymnastics because it knows how to protect itself and has a strong foundation.”

With his eyes set on being a Cirque de Soleil performer, Fletcher reached out to a Cirque du Soleil representative at the 2013 World Championships in Bulgaria and shortly after was sending in his audition, a montage video which included strength, flexibility, performance and sport-based skills. After a 6 month wait, in which time he was keeping busy with rowing coaching, trampoline training and performing in dreamworld shows, he got the call up. 

With only a 2 week turn around, Fletcher packed up his life in Queensland and flew to Las Vegas, where he would soon be performing under the resident show, The Beatles LOVE. The next 7 weeks comprised of wardrobe fittings, learning how to do make up, learning the choreography, jumping on the trampoline apparatus and learning Teeterboard and bungees.

After a few years performing in Vegas (480 shows a year…!), Fletcher went and watched the show Kurios in Los Angeles and saw an act that he knew he would love to be a part of, it was called Acronet.

“They had this act called the acronet and it is basically a giant trampoline stretched across the entire stage and six people are double bouncing one person up into the air, basically into the roof. After seeing that as a trampolinist, of course I really enjoyed watching it but I felt like that was something I would like to do.”

Due to Fletcher's versatility, (and luck of a position available in the show) he was able to transfer shows and join the tour shortly after.

In Kurios, Fletcher plays many different roles within the 2 hours. He is an acronet artist, a voyager, a Seeker and he also backs up the main character Mr Microcosmos. It is a busy day in the office for Fletcher, often changing costumes more than 5 times in 1 show!

Fletcher Donohue
Photo: Martin Girard / shootstudio.ca Costumes: Philippe Guillotel  © 2014 Cirque du Soleil

“It is just really well put together. The music, the lights, the sound design, acrobatically. The costumes are so well blended together, nothing stands out in a negative way and everything is really strong. It’s a very cohesive show. I think my favourite part is how well the show is put together in terms of the pacing of the show. Also, the acrobatic choreography of each act specifically.”

One of the highlights from Fletcher's career as a Cirque du Soleil performer thus far, has been being a part of refreshing the show back in Vegas. Fletcher and his acrobatic team redesigned the trampoline and teeterboard act in The Beatles, LOVE and after 8 months spent recreating the show, they premiered it to The Beatles themselves, including Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison (George Harrisons wife).

“What motivates me is the pursuit of happiness, I guess. I am very lucky to enjoy my job and have the chance to meet new people, be in new places and experience new things. I am motivated to do a good job and by the idea that people are watching and have paid money, so I need to do a good job for them.”

“It does get repetitive at times, but that is when you can up-skill yourself. You can do a quad instead of a triple, or add an extra half twist here and there, those little changes make a big difference.”

We asked Fletcher if he would recommend Cirque du Soleil as a career path for an aspiring gymnast…

“Yes I absolutely would suggest Cirque du Soleil as a career path, if you are interested in performing. There will always be someone with a better resume than you, so you just have to find the more interesting things to add to your resume. If you can do a lot of different things, show that you have interest, show that you can up-skill and be internally motivated, then that will go along way. If you have a passion for it then yes you should do it!”

Fletcher Donohue
Photo: D-CORD <Keiju Takenaka> Costumes: Philippe Guillotel  © 2018 Cirque du Soleil