We get to see a lot of high quality performing arts in London, just by going outside and hanging around. The National Theatre is hosting another Watch This Space Festival with lots of free outdoor performances to stumble across as you wander along the Thameside walk.
The plucky performers who risk the unpredictability of British summertime weather range from steel pan musicians, "anarchic silent comedy from Japan", pyrotechnics, and... three women on three enormous frames, performing their eye-popping acrobatics / dance / theatre / gymnastics piece Trip-tic. Mimbre will be returning to Watch This Space with this piece of unique physical theatre that was originally commissioned by the National Theatre in 2003. Silvia from Mimbre talks to Londonist before their performance on Thursday 27 July...
Who are you and how did you meet?
Mimbre is a female acrobatic street theatre company. We are 3 members, 2 swedish and 1 Italian: Emma, Lina and Silvia. We met at the Circus Space, London, in 1996, where we all attended the BTEC course in Performing Arts and Circus. After graduating in 1998 we travelled to Cuba with our Cuban acrobatic coach and trained there for 3 months. With a new act created in Cuba we came back to the UK and started working in the street theatre festival circuit. The company has steadily grown and we created two street shows: Sprung and Trip-tic, which became very successfull and toured all over UK, Europe and overseas.
How would you describe your work?
In our shows (Spung and Trip-tic), we use acrobatics and acrobalance techniques mixed with movement, dance and capoeira. The style we created became very original and different from the traditional acrobatic performances, and it has become our trademark. We also incorporate elements of physical theatre and theatre improvisation in our shows, and use this varied and unusual acrobatic vocabulary to create the narrative of our shows. We mostly work outdoors, in street theatre festivals, as we feel we can reach a wider variety of audience and the direct contact with the public is much more rewarding and satisfying.
Where does your company name come from?
Mimbre is a spanish word. It is the name of the plant used to weave baskets and furniture. In Cuban it is also the name of an acrobatic move which we use a lot, where two people join their hands together to create a platform from which a third person gets thrown in the air. This hand-weave resembles the patterns of the woven furniture.
Where have you performed your shows?
Various outdoor festivals and indoor events all over UK, Europe and overseas: some examples are: Venice Historical Regatta, Hong Kong New Year Celebration, Winter Olympics 2006 in Turin, Tarrega Festival in Spain, Tate Modern Party for the recent rehanging of the collection, Greenwhich and Docklands Festival... (you can have a quick look at our website for other places at www.mimbre.co.uk
What is your favourite memory of performing?
Performing outside the National Theatre in 2003, the year we created Trip-tic. We had one of the best photo shoots from that day, which we still use in our publicity. We came out of the dressing room to start the show, and realized the huge size of the audience that was waiting for us! People were standing on Waterloo Bridge looking down at the towers, other people were on the balcony of the National theatre watching the show from above, and all the rest was sat around the towers in a big semi-circle. It was a fantastic feeling and a lovely place to perform the show at home in London.
What is your worst memory of performing?
Worst memory...coming out of our elastic box (the set for the show Sprung), and realizing that there was almost no audience to watch us. The few that were there were standing far away, almost scared to come too close to us... we got on with it but it was really hard work to keep the energy up. I can't say the place, I might upset the organizers....(we did the same gig two years later and that time it was a lot nicer).
What do you do when you're not performing?
Which spare time?...the little we get I try to relax and look after my health...we get a lot of wear and tear injuries so rest is very important and precious.
Where is your favourite place in London and why?
Battersea Power Station is my favourite place in London, or at least it was before construction work started around it...it is a great building, looks powerful and sturdy, yet graceful. I stare at it for hours and never get bored...
Tell us a secret about London that no one else knows...
I can't say, or else it would be spoiled...
Mimbre will be performing Trip-Tic outside the National Theatre as part of the Watch This Space Festival on Thursday 27 July. For more information, go to the Watch This Space website here. Entry is free.