• Cirko Festival

    Agit-Cirk, Towards You | Photo: Joonas Martikainen

    Helsinki's annual festival of contemporary circus and magic (possibly new magic), Cirko draws principally from Scandinavia's own strong circus scene but pulls in high-profile international work as well (recently, Compagnie Non Nova's strange and incomparable P.P.P.). Organised by Cirko – Uuden Sirkuksen Keskus (Centre for New Circus), the festival also embeds lectures and networking events; so in 2010, the year Sideshow was there, Cirko hosted the second leg of Circostrada's Arts Writers & Circus Arts programme, as well as providing platforms for producers to present to venue directors and programmers.

    It's a professionally welcoming and extremely well-organised and tightly run festival, though perhaps for those not there as industry there's less of a sense of the festival behind the work it presents. It might be a character of Finnish theatre generally, but there's a peculiar abandonment at the end of each production – in twenty minutes, the audience has dispersed; in thirty, they're locking the venue. Cirko have recently moved into a new space though, an old gas factory that has been converted into a centre with performance spaces plus upstairs library and offices – and the 2011 festival will launch the new venue.

  • Magazine

    By John Ellingsworth on 14 May 2011 in Features

    'After debating the safety of a visit ('it has been cleaned but there's still some...' – reaching a moment for the English word – 'poison'), Tomi took some of the visitors to CIRKO into the old building in small groups. Inside it's cavernous and empty, 41 metres in diameter and 38 metres high. We went up to the lowest walkway, at the level of the great, rusted iron dome that would have risen and fallen with the pressure. Grey walls were cut with stripes of glass bricks that ran from floor to ceiling and let in low, refracted light.'

    Sideshow visits the CIRKO Center for New Circus in Helsinki, a custom facility built into the shell of an old industrial building and housed on the site of a defunct gasworks.

    By John Ellingsworth on 11 May 2011 in Reviews

    I was told beforehand that Kimmo Pohjonen once mooned the Queen, or some Royal, at a Proms performance in London. I don't know for sure, but I can credit it. With a low mowhawk, bare arms and a sweeping dress he's salty, earthy, tanned, strong; onstage he has a clear, unwavering confidence in whatever he happens to be doing, which could feasibly include mooning the Queen.

    By John Ellingsworth on 10 May 2011 in Reviews

    At the start of Motet there are juggling balls of all sizes and colours lying on the stage, and it's very dark. Sakari Männistö, wearing voluminous, brocaded trousers, treads daintily among them, moving from one edge to another, staring out and not in, waiting for something perhaps.

    By John Ellingsworth on 28 May 2010 in Features

    'I go to Stoa; a cold afternoon, a light rain. Walking out the back of the building where they load and unload the stage equipment there's a rank of entranceways with drawn-down metal shutters. No numbers or signs to differentiate the doors, but something catches the eye out on the concrete steps in front of one: two big lumps of ice, not sculpted, side-by-side, creature-like with melted runnels and reaching limbs. They're a little beautiful, and a little ugly, not really scintillating now in the weak sun, and they put me in mind of a throwaway replica of the stone statuettes that certain families place at the end of drives or on porches: for the time being at least, Compagnie Non Nova lives here.'

    Sideshow goes to Helsinki to see Philippe Ménard's Position Parallèle au Plancher, a work of fear, elation and longing played out within a stark landscape of ice.

    By John Ellingsworth on 17 May 2010 in Reviews

    There's a disorienting scene in Mue where a woman with a mask on the back of her head—a mask with shoulder-length hair that obscures her ordinary face—climbs a rope, straddles and inverts and turns.

    By John Ellingsworth on 15 May 2010 in Reviews

    By the end the stage floor is torn up, the Chinese pole has been felled, feathers and tyres are everywhere. The set is a wreck, but then it always was...