CLOVERDALE â€” When William Jans travels, he brings a camera, an impressive sense of adventure and, ultimately, a desire to share his stories with others.
For 25 years, heâ€™s built a loyal following locally with entertaining live shows based on his journeys around the globe.
His eighth multimedia production, dubbed â€œA Man, A Plan, Japan!,â€ debuts in Squamish this week and is brought to the Clova theatre next Thursday (April 23) as part of a three-date tour of the region.
â€œItâ€™s a still a work in progress,â€ Jans admitted in a phone interview from his Vancouver home on April 9.
â€œItâ€™s exhausting, but if I waited until the show was finished before I announced dates, it would never happen because itâ€™s so hard,â€ he added. â€œIâ€™m doing 17 hours a day right now, easy.â€¦ It takes a year to build one of my shows. My head spins, but I think people appreciate the amount of work that goes into it.â€
Jansâ€™ shows are â€œvirtually interactive,â€ with costumes, photos, videos, stories and other elements in play.
At the Clova, audience members will be charged more than $20 for taking in his latest production, to focus on an â€œoutrageousâ€ road in China, an abandoned amusement park, a trip through something called â€œBuddhaâ€™s nostrils,â€ a sumo-wrestling experience, fake food, radiation and more.
â€œIt all has an absurd sort of bent,â€ he said, â€œbut Iâ€™m glad itâ€™s culturally responsible and I really do my research, but I key on things that are a bit different than what most people might like to do (when travelling).
â€œFrom way back when I started to do this, I was never the stand-back-and-observe kind of guy, Iâ€™m the jump-in-and-try-this guy â€“ with permission. And I find that most places overseas, people are willing to allow someone to jump right in, which makes it great fun for me. And if I do my job right, itâ€™s not me up there in the photos, itâ€™s you, the audience, doing and experiencing these things.â€
(Story continues below TV clip of William Jans)
In Japan, one adventure had Jans mixing in with the time-warped rockabilly dancers at Tokyoâ€™s Yoyogi Park. It was his intention to bust some moves with the pompadourâ€™d guys and poodle skirt-wearing women, but he opted out after breaking his foot while out jogging (not â€œrescuing a camel from the river,â€ as he tells some people).
â€œI had to make the decision whether to bail on the trip,â€ Jans recalled. â€œI decided to keep going, with some cautious decisions, but it made dancing a no-go. But with those guys, if you try that, theyâ€™ll push you out of the way because itâ€™s like, â€˜Hey, this is our show, man.â€™ Theyâ€™re really nice guys who shared some beers with me, and I donâ€™t drink, so Iâ€™m there on a Sunday afternoon almost a bit hammered with these guys, who are drinking a lot of beer. They just do it for fun â€“ no hat out for money or anything â€“ but thereâ€™s a bit of ego and glory involved, too, and if they open it up to everybody, it just becomes a dance party, and theyâ€™re not into that. Itâ€™s them showing off. Itâ€™s probably best I didnâ€™t jump in, otherwise it probably wouldnâ€™t have gone well.â€
Jansâ€™ â€œA Man, A Plan, Japan!â€ show plays Squamish on Thursday, April 16, John Oliver Secondary in Vancouver on Friday, April 17 and the Clova in Surrey on Thursday, April 23 (show time 8 p.m., tickets $20.99 online, via Wrjphoto.com/tickets, and $22.99 at the door).