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    By John Ellingsworth on 27 November 2012 in Features

    "Plan B was the second piece, conceived by Aurélien but directed by Phil Soltanoff, a very uncompromising artist who Aurélien seems to find a big spark with. Yes, it's a slightly different aesthetic from some of his other works, but I think that Aurélien has progressed with every show he's done. It's gotten more complex. It's got more layers to it now. I think Plan B was an amazing step forward: who knows how people will see it now, but 10 years ago people who saw it were very deeply impressed."

    Mime Festival directors Joseph Seelig and Helen Lannaghan talk about the six circus shows (and one not-dance show) from January's programme.

    By John Ellingsworth on 24 July 2012 in Reviews

    One condition of being free is to be able to act alone. In Rouge, the eight performers, all young, all male, have no freedom, their actions watched by the group and performed under a collective duress.

    By John Ellingsworth on 24 May 2012 in Reviews

    Roshan definitely came to England from Iran. We can be sure he settled in London, we know he liked to play backgammon, and the 70s are a safe bracket in which to place his arrival. Everything else, though, is uncertain.

    By John Ellingsworth on 10 May 2012 in Reviews

    Linge Sale is no larger than its two performers, Alice Roma and Damiano Fumagalli. It's avowedly and deliberately small – stripped of artifice by its own relaxed easiness. The idea of character or performance will sometimes emerge, yet soon collapses back into the strong onstage relationship of two people who seem, simply, happy to be there.

    By John Ellingsworth on 17 March 2012 in Features

    "I run a website within a pretty tiny cupboard of a niche, contemporary circus, and have done since May 2009, and more broadly for the last five years or so I've worked in the subgenre of theatre which falls, with quite a lot of hamfisted over-the-lines colouring, within the territory of 'physical and visual performance'. Consequently what I want to talk about is the health of journalism and criticism within this small, small world."

    By John Ellingsworth on 30 January 2012 in Reviews

    With blank-faced women costumed in red, white and black uniforms (an enigmatic A striped across each of their backs), looped performances, video and sound, and subject matter that touches bizarrely on the mathematical nature of reality, being welcomed into the {Event(Dimension):} space feels a little like entering a museum that hasn’t had a visitor for a thousand years and where the meaning of the exhibits has been eroded half away.

    By John Ellingsworth on 29 January 2012 in Reviews

    There’s an unnamed malaise spreading through L’Immédiat: characters slip from chairs or slump to the ground like dropped coats, crawl and heave to cross the distance of a few feet, have the greatest difficulty standing or walking upright. Even the set has trouble keeping it together.

    By John Ellingsworth on 11 November 2011 in Features

    'Down then into the sunken arena at the back of the Book Barn by your choice of stage staircase—plain ones, starred ones, podium steps radiating out—the ambient, omnidirectional light joining you from high side-windows and skylights streaked with mossy rain sediment. It's closed, partly, sectioned off on the one side by the thick blue canvas of an old circus tent laid in overlapping strips, looped rope ties hanging free like the fastenings of a giantess' divested corset.'

    Sideshow travels to Bristol, where the relics of Victorian industry are being transformed into utopian artist-led projects.

    By John Ellingsworth on 9 November 2011 in Reviews

    At a first encounter, the characters of Box of Frogs all feel like they’re about ten years-old. Kaveh Rahnama talks constantly and inconsequentially about his mania for collecting circus-themed toys and knick-knacks, shouting with delight when Amazon finally deliver his King Tusk elephant and enthusing how this proud and mighty creature is (brilliantly) equipped with a foot strop to secure its plastic rider — an innovation without precedent in the history of toy manufacture.

    By John Ellingsworth on 9 November 2011 in Reviews

    When was the last time you saw a circus artist thinking? On stage, I mean, in a performance — and not acting a character who’s thinking, nor adopting a soulful posture in relation to a tress of silk about to be climbed, but actually caught for a moment in some personal and inscrutable introspection.

    By John Ellingsworth on 19 October 2011 in Interviews

    'We'd never done anything quite like Carny-Ville before. We'd probably never had a site like the Island; the Audi Garage was quite big, but very different: lots of closed spaces, car parks and different levels and stuff. The Island had this big courtyard... Carny-Ville came about sort of by accident; the first one we did we were sort of just having a bit of a party and thinking we could invite our friends and help fundraise to finish work on the building quicker.'

    For four years The Invisible Circus occupied The Island, a huge premises enclosing an old police station, fire station, clocktower and yard at the heart of Bristol. John Ellingsworth talks to one of the company founders, Doug Francisco, about how a permissive, ever-changing band of artists, creative squatters and interventionists came to run the site...

    By John Ellingsworth on 14 October 2011 in Reviews

    In iD we travel across the city, in day and night, for vignettes of urban lives. At the back of the stage the blank faces of a big, blocky set receive projections and transform into the different districts of the city: a construction site, a broad night view of slitted yellow windows, a residential building with its storeys criss-crossed by fire escape stairs.

    By John Ellingsworth on 11 October 2011 in Interviews

    'The proposition on which I mean to insist at present, is simply this, that fringes of colours are produced by the interference of two portions of light; and I think it will not be denied by the most prejudiced, that the assertion is proved by the experiments I am about to relate, which may be repeated with great ease, whenever the sun shines, and without any other apparatus than is at hand to every one.' — Thomas Young preparing to describe the first double-slit experiment to the Royal Society in 1803

    A piece taking its inspiration from the differences between quantum and particle physics, featuring lycraed supergirls, black holes and volcanoes, and based on a famously baffling experiment... John Ellingsworth talks to Sugar Beast Circus director Geneva Foster Gluck about the company’s new show {Event(Dimension):}.

    By Gemma Banks on 23 September 2011 in Features

    'I think the show started off quite innocent, and that, even though it had dark undertones from the beginning, it got progressively darker and darker. I'd been sending them these e-mails about Clockwork Orange, and we'd had this discussion of whether it should be the boys spraying Doreen with paint. I liked the idea that I could put them in white boilersuits and it would be quite violent, but it wound up being the two girls that did the scene and it ended up, in a way, being quite beautiful as she got absolutely drenched in this black paint.'

    Gemma Banks on her work designing the costumes for Gandini Juggling's Blotched.

    By John Ellingsworth on 11 August 2011 in Reviews

    The company, eleven of them this time, thread through the crowd. Sean Gandini comes close and rustles past looking like a piñata, his voluminous, papery coat and trousers layered pink, purple, yellow and orange, with a turquoise band settled at the waist as the cummerbund of this evening's attire.

    By John Ellingsworth on 30 June 2011 in Reviews

    Appearing like a faerie ring there's an exploded circle of hay on a small green in Tackley village, a Giffords Circus A-board materialised at the centre to advertise their latest production: War and Peace at the Circus.

    By John Ellingsworth on 28 June 2011 in Features

    'A squally clouded-over day, then, to accompany the revival of Greenwich Fair, a hoary old tradition in Greenwich Park which, until it was banned a century and a half ago, annually saw the erection of open-air markets, lurid theatres, bandstands, fairground rides, penny shies, and insalubrious premises (licensed and unlicensed), to accommodate a sudden competitive influx of entertainers, musicians, hawkers, and exotic beast-tamers—plus of course the roiling crowds of audience/punters/buyers/marks who came to be amused by the dreadful melodramas, fleeced by the mountebanks, and psychically obliterated by liquor.'

    A round-up of the action at Greenwich + Docklands Festival 2011, with work by Acrojou Circus Theatre, Elastic Theatre, Company FZ, and others.

    By John Ellingsworth on 15 June 2011 in Features

    Sideshow spins the summer circus festivals in an editorial centrifuge to separate out the circus, with Greenwich + Docklands International Festival, Watch This Space, Hat Fair, Zircus Plus, Bristol Harbour Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe and more under scrutiny.

    By Dorothy Max Prior on 24 April 2011 in Reviews

    As we enter the auditorium, we see the members of Groupe Acrobatique de Tanger loitering onstage, a motley assortment of men and women of various ages – some tall, some small; some stocky, some svelte.

    By John Ellingsworth on 10 April 2011 in Reviews

    Two characters, a man and a woman, are undergoing a rehabilitative process, alone except for the ambient voice of a calm, insistent psychiatrist. The man remembers a terrible accident, and struggles with depression and thoughts of suicide; the woman's memory slides away whenever she comes close to its pivotal moment.

    By Dorothy Max Prior on 29 March 2011 in Reviews

    As we enter the auditorium, the lights are dim and rosy, and there’s recorded piano and accordion music playing (sounding like something that might be on the Amelie soundtrack). It all feels very warm and welcoming.

    By John Ellingsworth on 2 March 2011 in Reviews

    I had no reason to expect something so unpleasant. Sadler's Wells have certainly kept quiet about the fact that, while The Centaur and the Animal does indeed have four beautiful, resplendent horses trained by an equestrian legend, Bartabas, and a noble butoh master, Ko Murobushi, onstage, it is also wrapped around the Comte de Lautréamont's vile and unremitting Maldoror.

    By John Ellingsworth on 29 January 2011 in Reviews

    Different nations have different kinds of stage nudity, I think. Australian nakedness is blokey and exhibitionist, Scandinavian is black and white and full-frontal, Eastern European is durational and probably smeared in something, while the French variety is matter-of-fact, broad, comic, casual – family nudity.

    By John Ellingsworth on 27 January 2011 in Reviews

    I feel like I've seen a lot of these now: expensive Mime Festival shows where the spectacle and technical ingenuity of some gigantic, indulgent piece of equipment overwhelms the theatrical, social or political intelligence that might, buried, lie underneath.

    By Helena Rampley on 26 January 2011 in Reviews

    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.

    By John Ellingsworth on 23 January 2011 in Reviews

    Like an exhibit in the storehouse of a museum, a dark bulk wrapped in black polythene. The light is low and there is no one to see – no one but us – as the shape beneath the plastic flexes, moving slowly. Cautiously it twists and opens, becomes larger, the sheet stretching to disguise its form.

    By John Ellingsworth on 22 January 2011 in Features

    Sideshow profiles Finnish aerialist and dancer and not-a-theatre-maker Ilona Jäntti and her un-British body of work.

    'I'm not really saying that it's a bad thing to work in narrative, but I was not theatre trained and I just feel that there are so many things in circus that I'd rather explore than how to tell something. I'm just really interested in what you can do with your discipline or with your body, other people, objects you've got within the space you're in. What can you do? I don't think there always has to be a story. I don't think the circus disciplines have to be forced into a theatre format somehow.'

    By John Ellingsworth on 21 January 2011 in Reviews

    There's excellent music choice. As tiny flickering lanterns, held one to a finger, are drawn sinuously through the air like the carriages of a train or the body of a lighted serpent: a French chanteuse, a singer in the night.

    By John Ellingsworth on 6 January 2011 in Reviews

    So then: the history of human evolution, Cirque-style. Men and women in Lycra frog suits bound through the space of a giant bone lattice as a spinning glitterball human is lowered from the roof.

    By John Ellingsworth on 5 January 2011 in Interviews

    '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.


  • News


  • Festivals

    Bristol Harbour Festival : Photo: Paul Box
    18/07/2014 to 20/07/2014
    Bristol – UK
    Circolombia, Urban
    26/03/2014 to 27/04/2014
    London – UK
    Les Argonautes, Pas Perdus | Photo: A. Chaudron
    01/08/2014 to 25/08/2014
    Edinburgh – UK
    World Famous & Scarabeus, Focal Point | photo: Fuse Medway Festival
    13/06/2014 to 15/06/2014
    Medway – UK
    Strange Fruit + Graeae, Against the Tide | Photo: Doug Southall
    20/06/2014 to 28/06/2014
    London – UK
    MPTA/Mathurin Bolze, Du Goudron Et Des Plumes | photo Christophe Raynaud de Lage
    08/01/2015 to 31/01/2015
    London – UK
    School of Acrobatic and New Circus Arts
    05/07/2014 to 13/07/2014
    London – UK
    Simone Riccio, Nothing Moves If I Don’t Push It
    13/06/2013 to 29/06/2013
    London – UK
    Gandini Juggling, Smashed!
    27/06/2014 to 31/08/2014
    London – UK
    Scarabeus, Heartland | Photo: David Dansky
    15/07/2011 to 17/07/2011
    Barrow-in-Furness – UK
  • Training Spaces

    Circus Space, London
    9.50m, 7.50m
    London – UK
    Greentop, Sheffield
    Sheffield – UK
    John Street, Cardiff
    Cardiff – UK
    The Albany Centre, Bristol
    Bristol – UK
    The Fire Station, Bristol
    Bristol – UK
    The Hangar, London
    6.00m, 10.00m
    London – UK