Over the next five weeks, London will be drowned in circus in a way that hasn’t been seen since the epic Circus Circus in 2012. Modern contemporary circus is an energetic and poetic form of physical theatre that goes beyond words and can manipulate the boundaries of reality with feats that border on the seemingly impossible. Five venues have joined together for the biennial Circusfest to once again bring the best of the world’s big top action to the capital and, boy, we can hardly wait.
The majority of the action will centre on the Roundhouse. Building on the wildly successful Fuertza Bruta held there earlier this year, the Camden venue will explore circus from every angle with performances, workshops, discussions and art installations spread across the Main Space, a pop-up tent and the studio theatre. Contrast, for example, Expectation which combines spoken word with aerialism for an immersive show about feminism with La Meute with its “wolf pack” of madcap French masters of the Russian Swing. With an international crew directed by Cantina’s Chelsea MacGuffin, She Would Walk The Sky will be one of the biggest spectacles on offer while Funk Da Cirque draws on a coterie of young British street dancers and acrobats aged 11-25.
For those brave souls inspired to get up out of their seat and try out what they’re seeing, the Roundhouse offers workshops on hula, acrobatics and dance as well as aerial skills, all of which appear as part of the venue’s Take Part Weekend (12-13 April). Outside the performance spaces, there will be plenty to see too. Internationally acclaimed visual artist Bertil Nilsson has used artificial light sources to create Luminescence, a free art installation that explores new ways of seeing circus.
Beyond the Roundhouse
Another four venues have even more action to lap up. As part of a wider circus programme, Jacksons Lane present an intriguing pair of shows for Circusfest: Strike! sounds like a cheeky eyepoke at everyday bureaucracy, while Triptych is a one-woman show incorporating trick cycling, slack rope, aerial and object manipulation. Also in north London, artsdepot’s Clockwork is a stunning Swedish symphony of synchronicity. Shoreditch Town Hall will see Edinburgh Fringe darlings Gandini Juggling play with the boundaries of their artform in Clowns & Queens, while Deptford’s The Albany revisits its successful scratch circus night with Bites: Remix, which sees music, dance and comedy added to the line-up. Finally, site-specific Echoes will explore the daily grind with dance and acrobatics in a performance to be held at a secret location. Wherever you are, get stuck in.