Published on luglio 14th, 2013 | by Tiziana Foggetta8
NoFit State Circus
NoFit State Circus Company presents BIANCO as its London Premiere at the Roundhouse this April 2013. I share what this show is about, for Improvearts.
I first heard about NoFit State Circus this year, while I was in the UK. It wasn’t until the 8th of April this year that I would get to see their last production BIANCO. I would learn that NoFit State is the UK’s leading large-scale contemporary circus company, producing professional touring productions.
In 2012 the company celebrated its 25th birthday and is one of the European leading exponents of contemporary circus. NoFit State is a Welsh company from Cardiff, which supports circus and physical theatre companies / artists that are based in South Wales. (Circostrada Network)
Over the last five years, NoFit State’s touring productions have visited 15 different countries, played to audiences of over 250,000, have been critically acclaimed and won numerous prestigious international arts awards, more than any troupe in the UK. They have been reinventing the form, while staying as close as possible to the ethos upon which they were first founded in 1985. (NoFit State, 2012)
I was aware of the UK performing arts style and I was very interested to see how contemporary circus is doing in the cold country. So I went and saw my first UK production at the Roundhouse venue. I personally find it difficult to choose the right words to describe such an amazing explosion of skills and sounds. What I found was a wide range of skills, i.e. skills of body knowledge and skills of creativity.
The first image I got as soon as I entered the venue was not what I had expected. It was not the main stage where the artists are supposed to be, not at all; but the crowd of spectators. It took a few seconds of taking in my surroundings before I realized that I was actually part of the show.
I was right in the middle of the action. It was incredible how all the audience was close to the performers. In BIANCO, the show is behind you and mostly above you. What is interesting is not the genre, but how the artists can interact with their public.
If the image in your mind is traditional circus, this isn’t it. This circus is also a theatrical experience. BIANCO is made by four giant white towers that are the set of the show. These tours can glide quietly and silently for part of the show or they can turn savagely as part of getting into the next location. In every act the space is carved in a completely different way. The performers inhabit the same space as the spectators with the spectators becoming co-players in the creation of the show. The audience is asked to walk around the white tours, from side to side, or to create a path through the crowd in order to receive, from these walks, new and fascinating perspectives. If, at first, you’re looking at the tours, then, suddenly, you are behind them looking at the entire venue. What I find exciting is how the public has absolutely no idea what is going on in the scene as something else is about to happen elsewhere in the venue.
The day I attended BIANCO, the spectators seemed to cooperate and appreciate the show through tiny smiles of excitation. But what happens if the parterre audience does not like the entire promenade?
To be honest, therein lies BIANCO’s peculiarity, but that is the risk that Firenza Guidi, the show’s artistic director, is taking. This Promenade performance is probably not giving the full extent of what the experience is. I hadn’t understood what promenade experience meant when I first noticed it on my ticket, or why it said to wear confortable shoes and clothing during the show.
All the performers were interacting with the four towers and the audience. Their bodies flew, fell, jumped, rotated, and glided; no laws of gravity seemed to exist. Nevertheless, there will not be a situation where you are hit by an object or a body. Circus performers are usually tied up to ropes, hoops, trapezes. They walk on tightwire, they wedge in Cyr wheels and their skills are surprising: strength, flexibility, power and agility. However, every skill opens a new magical reality if the perfect music and lights are chosen. So BIANCO chose Fireproof Giant band, an alternative folk music group, and asked them to play live on a gazebo. They decided to play on spectator’s emotions to make it perfectly moving.
When the tours move again, the artists change outfits and scene; they sit on the tours, they walk on them or they use them as trampoline to dive into the imaginary swimming pool.
Every act of the show is rich in details and not easy to follow if you want to capture every feature. But, at the end of BIANCO, what remains in memory will only depend on individual sensitivity and I am sure that this show has all the ingredients to be recognized as a high-level, contemporary circus performance.
Music: Fireproof Giant
Photos: David Levene