In the 250th anniversary year of the invention of modern circus, the Roundhouse’s CircusFest 2018 focuses on the future of circus: daring and diverse, punky and poetic, subversive and socially aware.
From the spectacular to the intimate, the festival showcases the point where circus collides with theatre, dance, live art, film and even virtual reality.
Founded in 2009, CircusFest is London’s biennial international festival of contemporary circus taking place at the Roundhouse as well as selected partner venues around London. Circus has come a long way since Philip Astley created the first variety show and this year’s CircusFest shows how this art form is always innovating and evolving. With fifteen shows, two film projects and artists from three continents including companies from Sweden, USA, Finland and Palestine, the artists have blown circus apart and are putting it back together in new ways.
The Roundhouse believes in the power of creativity to transform lives and CircusFest explores the difference circus can make, from the pertinent work of the Palestinian Circus School, to the documentary Even When I Fall and its look at Circus Kathmandu, to the Street Circus Collective’s Throwdown, part of the Roundhouse’s activities with 11-25-year-olds.
Headlining this programme are two incredibly powerful productions: the world premiere of Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine from the acclaimed Pirates of the Carabina and the UK premiere of Groupe Bekkrell‘s punk show The Bekkrell Effect.
The Bekkrell Effect is an exhilarating visual feast combining the power of punk with risk and flare. Five performers hurtle around the stage, things fall apart, atoms decay and relationships break up – below the surface is chaos, yet with enough distance everything can be beautiful. Part riot-grrrl pop song, part circus spectacle The Bekkrell Effect is an energising experience.
Inspired by physicist Henri Becquerel’s discovery of radioactivity, French company Groupe Bekkrell have created an unstable universe of perpetual movement where matter decays and bonds disintegrate. Powered by the strength of its performers and driven with the momentum of a gig at the end of the world, it is at once comic and revealing.
Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine (RUHM) by Pirates of the Carabina is a world premiere of the brand new mechanically ingenious circus show from the makers of FLOWN. Delving bravely into the fantastical imaginations of two fated acrobats, RUHM is enjoyably anarchic, punchy and exhilarating, with an ingenious interconnected set and original live score.
Featuring vertical-swinging trapeze, never-ending ropes, a spinning carousel, high-wire and a very temperamental staircase, RUHM offers up a playful, humorous modernist parable about time, technology and the forces that drive us.
Highlights of this year’s CircusFest also include the European premiere of The Richochet Project’s Said and Done, 2015 Total Theatre Award winners Palestinian Circus School’s new show SARAB (Mirage), Ellie Dubois’ award-winning Edinburgh smash hit No Show, and the V&A Late highlighting the 250th anniversary of circus and the future of this ever-popular physical, visual art form.
Producers of CircusFest 2018, Molly Nicholson and Daniel Pitt comment, London was the birthplace of modern circus in 1768. Like London, circus is highly international and the Roundhouse presents brilliant artists from around the world regardless of language or borders. We’re looking to the future of circus, celebrating the strength, skill and potency of these incredible artists and joining their pursuit for development in the art form and change in the world.
The diverse and exciting full programme for CircusFest 2018 is as follows:
Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine (RUHM) by Pirates of the Carabina (3 – 15 April, Roundhouse Main Space)
This is the world premiere of a brand-new mechanically-ingenious family-friendly circus show. Adventure into a world of mechanical chaos, where everything has a mind of its own and connections appear in unexpected ways. As contraptions, fixtures and fittings come to life, our heroes begin to question their place in it all.
The Bekkrell Effect by Groupe Bekkrell (19 – 22 April, Roundhouse Main Space)
This UK premiere by French company Groupe Bekrell is an exciting chance to experience the richness of European circus. Combining innovative rigging and exceptional circus artists, The Bekkrell Effect swings between acrobatics and poetry, falling and flying, in a performance as energetic as a nuclear reaction.
Fram & Dunt by Collectif and then… (3 – 5 April, Roundhouse Sackler Space)
A story about Fram aka daughter aka hair hung artist Francesca Hyde who asked Dunt aka dad aka 60-year-old Joe Hyde to run away with her to the circus, despite him having no previous circus experience. Her secret mission, to get him to quit his job and bring him to the stage that he has always dreamed of.
Breaking Point by Weibel Weibel Co. (6 – 8 April, Roundhouse Sackler Space)
Mainly through slack rope, Alexander Weibel Weibel explores ideas of tension and how far things can be pushed before the inevitable happens.
Throwdown by Roundhouse Street Circus Collective (12 – 14 April, Roundhouse Sackler Space)
Throwdown is an energetic-in-your-face-encounter, bursting with the individual style and personality of 20 young circus artists and hip-hop dancers. The Roundhouse Street Circus Collective brings together bold young circus artists and street dancers aged 16-25 with a drive to train, collaborate, produce and present their own work.
Even When I Fall by Sky Neal & Kate McLarnon (15 April, Roundhouse Sackler Space)
Even When I Fall traces the journey of trafficking survivors over 6 years as they confront the families that sold them, seek acceptance within their own country and begin to build a future. They struggle against the odds and without education, but inadvertently these girls were left with a secret weapon by their captors – their breathtaking skills as circus artists. Nepal’s first and only circus company challenge the deep-seated stigma against trafficked women.
No Show by Ellie Dubois (18 – 22 April, Roundhouse Main Space)
After taking Edinburgh Fringe 2017 by storm and winning a prestigious Herald Angel Award, No Show explores what you expect when you go to the circus. It joyously and heartbreakingly reveals what lies hidden beneath the showmanship. See behind the flawless smiles and perfect execution of the traditional circus performance to show the wobbles, the pain, and the real cost of aiming for perfection. A show for anyone who has tried, failed and failed better.
Zoetrope by Remy Archer (3 – 22 April, Roundhouse Main Space)
While working as a filmmaker at social circuses in Palestine and Ethiopia, Remy Archer was inspired by the incredible talent, artistry and social impact of what he saw. Zoetrope is a 360 film installation that weaves together some of these stories into a visceral tapestry that plunges audiences into scenes that would otherwise be inaccessible.
Said and Done by The Ricochet Project (4 – 7 April, Jacksons Lane)
Using high-flying contortions, live sonic installation, lo-fi technology and acrobatic distortions, Said and Done is a surrealist reality check set somewhere in the expressionist ice-desert of the not so distant future.
SARAB (Mirage) by Palestinian Circus Company (13 – 15 April 2018, Jacksons Lane)
2015 Total Theatre Award winners return with a new show about the unexpected, something that turns out to be only a mirage. Dragged to an uncertain end, with an unknown destiny, they finally arrive – but have they reach their goal? And what did they want?
Friday Late: Circus – Past, Present & Future (27 April, Victoria and Albert Museum)
This is a collaboration between Roundhouse CircusFest – the home for contemporary circus – and the Victoria and Albert Museum – who hold a large number of objects that reveal the history of circus. With 2018 being Circus250, we must consider what’s next for this ever-popular physical, visual art form. Expect workshops that test your agility, rarely seen archives from the V&A’s collection, a series of live performances and newly commissioned inter-disciplinary acts.
Head by John-Paul Zaccarini (9 April, Jacksons Lane)
For nine years, John-Paul delighted audiences worldwide with his show Throat. Now a Professor in Circus, he’s back and delighted to give them Head. As brainy as he is buff, a bimbo philosopher, he presents a middle-aged, one man circus lecture pretending to be a performance.
Hyena by Alula Cyr (12 – 13 April, The Albany)
The first all-female Cyr troupe, Alula’s debut Hyena explodes onto the UK circus scene in a whirlwind of women, wheels, acrobatics, dance and song.
Knot by Nikki and JD (17 – 18 April, The Place)
The Knot is the invisible string that connects two people. Using acrobatics, movement and storytelling to expose the hopes we hold for the ideal lover, Knot is the story of two hearts making sense of perfection.
Yablochkov Candle by Ilona Jantti & Aino Venna (19 – 21 April, Jacksons Lane)
Enter the velvet world of cabaret in 1920s Vienna for an evening of poetic jazz and aerial performance, infused with the smoky tones of French chansons and old-school rock ‘n’ roll. This unique and minimalist cabaret-esque night will linger in your memory for months to come.
Natalie Inside Out by Natalie Reckert and Mark Morreau (8 April, Jacksons Lane)
This playful collaboration between virtuoso hand balancer Natalie Reckert and digital artist Mark Morreau explores the inner workings and fragmentation of the acrobatic body through digital technology and video projection. Beautiful, didactic and highly skilled, Natalie Inside Out turns our conventional ideas of circus upside down and inside out. Literally.
Performance Dates Tuesday 3rd – Friday 27th April 2018
Location Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, London NW1 8EH, www.roundhouse.org.uk