Page last updated at 04:04 GMT, Saturday, 10 October 2009 05:04 UK

'Space clown' hosts global show


Guy Laliberte's event aimed to raise awareness of global water issues

Circus entrepreneur and "first clown in space" Guy Laliberte has hosted a global artistic performance from the International Space Station (ISS).

Mr Laliberte introduced artists and speakers from 14 countries in a two-hour show aimed at drawing attention to global water shortages.

Al Gore, Bono and Salma Hayek were among those involved.

Mr Laliberte, founder of the Cirque du Soleil theatre company, is near the end of a 10-day tourist visit to the ISS.

The show, called Moving Stars and Earth for Water, was described by its organisers as a Poetic Social Mission.

It began at midnight GMT, with a welcome from Mr Laliberte onboard the ISS.

He then introduced former US Vice President and environmental campaigner Mr Gore, who said that "to solve the climate crisis and safeguard our planet and its beauty will require global effort".

Global stars

Over the next two hours, the show visited actors, artists, politicians, and activists in 14 countries including South Africa, Morocco, India, Japan and Australia.

Guy Laliberte (30 Sept 2009)
Mr Laliberte said Earth appeared fragile when seen from space

Each artist read a section of a poem by Man-Booker prize-winning author Yann Martel - emphasising the need for all the world's population to have access to clean water - followed by a musical or artistic performance.

In South Africa, Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai read a passage about the link between water and education, followed by a seafront performance by musical group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

In London, musician and activist Peter Gabriel spoke about water as a human right before British singer Joss Stone performed.

And in Mumbai, a reading by Indian environmentalist Vandana Shiva was followed by a video recording of a performance by Academy Award-winning composer AR Rahman.

Other performances included Inuk singer Elisapie Isaac in Canada, Australian opera singer Tiffany Speich in Sydney, Moroccan rap group Fnaire in Marrakech and acrobatic dances by members from Mr Laliberte's Cirque du Soleil.

In New York, a group of dancers staged a "flash-mobbing" in Times Square.

Among the speakers were US actors Hayek and Matthew McConaughey, award-winning scientist and environmentalist Dr David Suzuki, Canadian astronaut Julie Payette and Bindi Irwin, the young daughter of the late Australian wildlife expert, Steve Irwin.

'So fragile'

The event was broadcast live on the website of One Drop, the water charity founded by Mr Laliberte.

Guy Laliberte with the crew of the ISS (2 October 2009)
Mr Laliberte is spending 10 days on board the ISS

Viewers around the world were invited to sign a pledge to cut down on the amount of water they use.

Irish singer and activist Bono spoke to Mr Laliberte from a concert of his band, U2, in Tampa, Florida.

Bono asked Mr Laliberte, who he called "the first clown in space", for his perspective of Earth from the ISS.

"I see stars, I see darkness and emptiness. But planet Earth looks so great, and also so fragile," said Mr Laliberte.

"We should not forget that we have a great privilege to live on planet Earth."

Mr Laliberte blasted into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 30 September, accompanied by Russian cosmonaut Maksim Surayev and US astronaut Jeffrey Williams.

He is the seventh private individual to make the trip and reportedly paid $35m for his ticket.

Before his departure, he told the BBC he wanted to use his visit to the ISS to produce "something that is originally creative".

"Hopefully we will have the result of sensitising people toward the situation of water in the world," he said.

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