Planetary Swedish hub. Founded in the early 90s by Tilde Björfors, Cirkör has ever since been at the centre of contemporary circus' development in Sweden – running a full-time training course (now a higher education degree run by the University of Dance and Circus), conducting youth work on a massive scale, supporting the artistic development of younger companies, and producing their own (fairly glossy and anodyne) large-scale work. The company are based in Botkyrka's Subtopia complex (which they helped persuade the local municipality to build in the first place).
'In Finland we did the very, very first show and we had these Finnish lumberjack guys crying afterwards because it connected to them as 50 year-old lumberjacks; one guy came to me after and he was crying and saying, ‘This is something that... that really wants to say something’. It’s amazing, to have a circus show that connects to men who are like 50+ lumberjacks. How do you get beneath the surface of that person, the shell of that person, and touch him?'
John Ellingsworth talks to Olle Strandberg, director of the runaway success Undermän, about autobiography, circus texts, the affinities of circus and street dance, working for Cirkus Cirkör, and having to start over after you've lost everything.
Sideshow travels to Stockholm for the CASCAS tour – a headlong, six-day race through Swedish circus and street arts – visiting the incredible Subtopia facility in Botkyrka, hearing from students training for work with Clowns Without Borders and from teachers at the University of Dance and Circus, watching circus artists and punks and fakirs at Subcase, and taking many long walks through the snow and ice of the winter city.
There's a certain kind of imagery that's the imagery of the photoshoot. Objects are cut in for colour or to create visual friction – you know the sort of thing: putting a pale, fey model in boxing gloves, or situating a burly thug on the tiny horse of a bleached-out, ruined carousel.
'I've worked a lot with circus artists, artists that are in Inside Out but also other artists, to find out what is the knowledge that they have about taking risks and balancing and dealing with the physical risk that they always have. But also with the mental... with the life situation in one way. A lot of circus artists, they prefer to have a moving life all over the world instead of having a house and a safe, secure living. And also a lot of circus history has been worked in—so a lot of the stories or the characters in the show have flavours from historical artists or stories.'
Sideshow interviews Tilde Björfors, artistic director of Cirkus Cirkör, about the company's super-success Inside Out, their collaboration with Irya's Playground, and their continuing work with research scientists in exploring the physical and neurological effects of circus.
Within the first ten minutes two audience members have been pulled up on stage—Tom, who’s busy peddling the bike that provides the theatre’s electricity, and Saga, nervous and clutching a handbag, who’s philosophically brutalised by the ringmasterish whiteface.
Sideshow previews two big upcoming imports: James Thiérrée's Raoul at the Barbican and Cirkus Cirkör's Inside Out at the Peacock Theatre.
Airy speculation grounded by interviews with Pam Vision (from James Thiérrée's UK producer Crying Out Loud) and Lina B. Frank (one of two designers working with Cirkör on Inside Out).