CircusFest kicked off this week with Pirates of the Carabina's show Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine (or RUHM for short), a mechanically chaotic piece that sees its performers swing, balance and dangle across an elaborate set. The show is the centrepiece of the CircusFest festival, a month-long extravaganza running across London and celebrating circus in all its forms.
This year it's all the more exciting as 2018 marks 250 years since modern circus was invented and, while there has certainly been some huge innovations in the art form since the eighteenth century, the sense of history means RUHM comes with extra pertinence. You can see the company give us a look at the show in previews here.
Bursting with excitement
PotC: Building new equipment to play on is central to what the company do. If there's a way of clambering up it, climbing through it, turning it upside down or flying off it, then we'll make it happen. Our entire ethos is about putting a spotlight on the mechanics of circus itself – showing how things work and how tricks are done. And the set in RUHM is, even more, a part of the cast than our previous shows. We're lucky to get support from some amazing friends who give us the room to muck about and invent – particularly The Point, Eastleigh, Invisibles Circus, and Pontio, Bangor."
Smiles all round
PotC: " RUHM is essentially about how each of us has the answer to a joyful, grounded and calmer life within us all – if we just stop for a moment and rethink our current ways of living. We want to take audiences on that adventure with us, and like the best circus acts we look up to, it has to make you smile. Whether it's through surprise, or beautiful dance, a 'wow' moment, great tricks or perfectly attuned clowning, we want audiences to enjoy the show as much as we do. "
Notes on a stage
PotC: "We've been lucky enough to work with some really amazing creatives, from our director James Williams, to choreographer Dela Seward and circus directors Samuel and Heike Jornot. The new show is, like our first big production FLOWN, grounded in traditional circus techniques, but in working with so broad a range of artists, we try to keep our ideas and inventions fresh and exciting."
PotC: "Time to get ready. When we load-in and build the set, everyone in the company is involved. But you grab any moment of glamour that you can!"
A cymbal of success
PotC: Live music is a central part of the Pirates philosophy, with the cast all playing various instruments. And whilst the drumkit doesn't fly in RUHM, the set comes alive in all kinds of ways as part of the instrumentation. Look out for a floating piano...!
CircusFest is go!
PotC: "Dress run before the launch of CircusFest: Shaena and Jade with Molly Nicholson, circus producer at the Roundhouse."
Circus circle warmup
PotC: "Warming up before the show. We always go through the ritual of coming together for a dance and a high-five. Itǯs the best way of gearing up before going on stage, getting centred, and taking a minute to remember why we do this ...in spite of (or because of?!) the insanity!"
First night down!
PotC: "Final bow. This is why we do it!"
Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine runs at the Roundhouse until 15 April.
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