Love London Love Culture spoke to Molly Nicholson, producer of the 2018 CircusFest about what audiences can expect from this year’s programme…

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What can people expect from this year’s CircusFest? This year’s CircusFest is packed full of amazing performances – you can expect to see some of the highest skilled circus artists from around the world. We have Pirates of the Carabina, who have built a circus machine in our main space, Groupe Bekkrell who are bringing punk attitude back to the Roundhouse, as well as 16 other events happening around our smaller spaces and 5 other venues around London.

Is there a particular theme behind this year’s festival? There are a few themes as part of this year’s festival. 2018 marks the 250th anniversary of the invention of the modern circus when Philip and Patty Astley created the first permanent circus venue in Lambeth. Using this as a starting point we wanted to look at the future of circus – what might the next 250 years look like?

A show that we’re really happy to be presenting in reflection of that theme is No Show by Ellie Dubois. Taking circus history as a starting point, the costume, the glitzy smiles, the sequins; No Show looks at the real people who lie behind that showmanship and all that goes into making the performance look perfect.

As part of looking to the future, we’re also looking at circus role in society, on Sunday 15th April we have a series of events that audiences can join in on, starting with the film screening of Even When I Fall by Circus Kathmandu, followed by panel discussion ‘Circus for Change’ and then there is time to travel to Jacksons Lane to see Sarab by The Palestinian Circus School which portrays the lived experience of refugees across the world.

How easy was it to create this year’s programme? When creating the programme we travelled to see a lot of shows for the festival as we wanted to find work that represented the themes we wanted to explore which wasn’t difficult as many artists are creating high quality work along those themes that we could look at for inspiration and programming. What was hard was finding large scale work – it very difficult for circus artists to make large scale work, there isn’t a lot of money and space to facilitate that. However we were lucky that Pirates had been dreaming up their next large scale show at the time we were programming – it was a risk as we weren’t able to see the show before programming but having been in rehearsals that risk has definitely paid off!

Is there anything that you are looking forward for audiences to see? I’m looking forward to them seeing so much – the festival is full of brilliant shows. I’m really looking forward to people seeing the set for Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine by Pirates of the Carabina and how the company perform on it. Pirates of the Carabina are pioneers in creating new equipment and they have excelled themselves with this show making a huge circus machine. Things appear that you wouldn’t have though possible – it’s really exciting!

I’m also really looking forward to them seeing the 360 VR installation that artist Remy Archer has created. Through this you can experience the circus from 3 different circus schools, The Palestinian Circus School, Phare The Cambodian Circus School, and Fekat circus school based in Ethiopia. It’s a chance to see these companies doing the amazing work in the context of their own spaces. Also it’s the first VR circus film that has been created so it’s pretty special – and it’s free.

What do you think it is about circus that continues to fascinate people? There are lot of different elements to do with circus that I think keeps audiences fascinated.

The skills of the performers continue to thrill – I have been watching circus regularly for 10 years and still find myself being amazed by what performers can do. It’s amazing to see the strength of the performers as we’ll as their skill – and how they support each other on stage. Circus is all about trust, you’re often putting your life in someone’s else’s hands, and you see that through the strength of the relationship between the performers on stage.

The stories that are told through circus are fascinating. Circus is wonderful because it’s so multinational. It’s an artform not historically based in language and so artists regularly are moving around the world, learning from other cultures. CircusFest is an international festival and there is the chance to see circus from across the world that you might get the chance to see otherwise.

How would you say the future of circus is looking? I’m really excited about the future of circus – its growing, in ambition, in creativity and in skill, and I think it’s going to continue to get bolder and more thrilling.

CircusFest continues to take place at the Roundhouse as well as other London venues until the 6th May. For more information visit: http://www.roundhouse.org.uk/whats-on/2018/circusfest-2018/

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