Dancer to aerialist halfway house. Driven by artistic director Vicki Amedume, Upswing are a UK company working mostly in wired aerial theatre, and mostly with dancers or actors who are trained-up to acquire whatever skills are needed for a particular show. Alongside its production work, Upswing carries on a strong line in CPD training, running an apprentice scheme for new African-Caribbean aerialists that also serves to train members for the company.
A West African woman is inexplicably taken away from her home. Held against her will in a prison, she is miles from her husband, her child and everything she knows. Punished for her unexplained crimes in an unknown world, this woman is both fallen from her homeland and perceived as fallen in nature.
'I think storytelling for me doesn't come from England, it comes from my heritage – storytelling in Africa, in Ghana, its not just entertainment, it's a means of communication. When I talk to my mother – it's hard to explain... even the language in Africa: something that can be said in a couple of words in English, the same phrase in Africa is a much, much more flowery phrase. It's much more proverbial and things are told in analogies and connections, so I think I've been brought up with that interest in stories.'
Upswing's artistic director Vicki Amedume talks to Sideshow about her background in traditional circus, her interest in working stories into non-text-based work, the particular problems and quirks of devising circus, and where all these strands meet: the company's new show, Fallen.
Stilt-walking has always been the most lavishly costumed circus discipline—a lot of times the pleasure is in seeing the bespoke detailing and the ways in which the weaknesses of stilts (the need to cover up the legs, the jerky movement) have become strengths of the design (cloven hooves for pegs, insectile limbs, giant stilt robots, etcetera).