It’s been a while. The sun is out in the Frankle’s cultural capital workplace of the day, aka Stockholm. A lot has happened this year already and with spring sprouts new energy, but also with great art!
Today I saw an excellent piece of art. The dress rehearsal of KALITY Vittnesmål från samvetsfångar at Södra Teatern. Not knowing what I was going to see as I had been invited by a friend whom I trust to bring me along to worthwhile things, but also Södra Teatern has exactly the kind of eclectic mix of interesting, weird and quality that I tend to love. KALITY turned out to be the best piece of theatre I’ve seen in ages, totally captivating, important and timely piece of new writing with the person whose incredible experience it was actually in the piece speaking about their experience amongst actors. Very powerful. It made me reflect on the very nature of ‘great art as shared experience’ and gave me the inspiration, energy and force to achieve the mountain of tasks I have in stall for the next few months. If in Stockholm this week – go see. If organising a festival concerned about changing the world – book it.
This spring I have partly relocated to Stockholm where I’ve taken on a new epic job as Coordinator of the Baltic Nordic Circus Network. The network is undertaking a 3 year development project for contemporary circus in the Baltic Nordic region of which I am in charge of facilitating the delivery off in collaboration with the 14 member organisations across the countries. For those of you who know me you know exactly how much this mission is my bag (!) I’m chuffed to bits.
Other than that I have been to Prague to visit Cirkopolis Festival and deliver a seminar on Marketing and Export for circus artists as part of the European CASA Project .
I have also been totally proud and excited because for the first time I did not host VOLT Circus Scratch Night in Bristol that I’ve started and run for the last 4 years. I asked the legend that is Danny Prosser to host in my place, not only because Danny is awesome, but because he understands exactly what VOLT is, what it’s for and has that beautiful ethos of Ausform in his backbone. I will admit that I received numerous messages saying how great Danny – and in orderly smug fashion a muttered a small ‘told you’. Anyone who knows Danny knew that babe would smash it.
Other than that Circus City is go…. i’ll leave that for next time.
With the news of the recent elections I am choosing to listen to one of my heroes, Anne Bogart:
“One day, particularly discouraged about the global environment, I asked my friend the playwright Charles L. Mee, Jr., ‘How are we supposed to function in these difficult times? How can we contribute anything useful in this climate?’ ‘Well,’ he answered, ‘You have a choice of two possible directions. Either you convince yourself that these are terrible times and things will never get better and so you decide to give up, or, you choose to believe that there will be a better time in the future. If that is the case, your job in these dark political and social times is to gather together everything you value and become a transport bridge. Pack up what you cherish and carry it on your back to the future.”
The autumn is going crazy fast! I’ve started working with Upswing Aerial in London which is most excellent. I work with the marvels Camille Bensoussan and Vicki Amedume touring Bedtime Stories around the country via the Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Program including theatres and libraries under the project name ‘Building Stories, Pushing Boundaries’. We also opened a council house in Oldham near Manchester…
A major part of September and October has involved supporting Grania Pickard in developing her new show and subsequent launch of her company Oddly Moving Circus Theatre. We previewed her new show He Ain’t Heavy at Trinity Centre in Bristol in September which will premiere with a bang next year supported by Turtle Key Arts.
On the horizon…I’ve started working on a shift in perspective of the work of Ausform (UK). From January 2017 the strand VOLT will be extracted and given more focus operating on it’s own terms. Expect a new website launching. One of the first projects of VOLT next year will be to tour Tanter’s Vixen around the UK whilst facilitating conversations and professional development of work, technique and discourse of contemporary circus. I’m very excited about this. To support this Tanter are also developing a new version of their show in a cabaret format for spaces that can not facilitate either all disciplines in the show, or feel their audience is pushed by the concepts of the show, but are interested to further conversation and programme the company.
I’ve started also talking to the fire cracker Olivia Hultman of Kompani Hint in Malmö about artist development and support for Contemporary Circus in the region (on the Swedish side of the channel).
I’ve just arrived in Montreal for Cinars which I am here as part of the FACE delegation. I’m representing Ausform and Circus City, but will also be available for chats about the work of Tanter and any other interesting banter!
Despite the shit storm that has hit the world, there is still a lot of greatness going on and I for one will be making sure my ‘transport bridge’ stays intact as I start today to look at the near and distant horizon.
The summer keeps evolving. I have just got back from a week of working at the excellent Sansusi Festivals in the south forests Latvia. Invited by the marvellous Mara Pavula (also producer of Re Riga Circus Festival, which happens next week – check it out). Sansusi is an interesting festival, DIY at heart but with a world class programme of chamber music – all performed outdoors in the woods. I had an excellent time and managed to catch up with colleagues of the Baltic Nordic Circus Network.
Earlier this year I said I would produce a series of writings from travels to Circus Info in Finland. This trip turned out to be an incredibly brilliant experience and it has meant that rather than writing some quick reports I have been thinking much further and hoping to continue the research. The research I am taking forward now has the particular focus on European Artist Support organisations and their relationships with the scenes they support on local levels in combinations with the networks they are part of on international levels.
In June I was lucky enough to get to Paris to attend the Circus Next presentations with my Circus City Festival hat on and in July I worked with Luca Silvestrini and Protein Dance to project manage an outdoor piece of immersive dance which involved hundreds of participants and professional dancers, spanning 10 performances watched by over 10 000 people over a week in Bristol for the Dance Village at Harbourside Festival – Bristol’s largest cultural festival.
I’ve also been working away with Co-Producer Kate Hartoch for the planning of the next Circus City Festival, scheduled to happen in the Autumn of 2017, worked on company development with Bristol’s newest contemporary circus company Oddly Moving Circus Theatre – the baby of Grania Pickard preparing for our showcase of her new work He Ain’t Heavy which previews on the 29th of September at Trinity Centre in Bristol with a planned tour for Autumn 2017. If you are unaware of this project watch the short but beautiful documentary here from last years R&D which articulates its ambition brilliantly. As part of Oddly Moving’s repetoire we are developing a new workshop series particularly aimed at Autistic persons and their siblings/family members supported by Bristol Autism Support and Circomedia.
July also saw a touring performance to Malmö with Nordic New Circus Company Tanter performing Vixen for the first time outdoors since my involvement with the company for Malmö Summerstage (Sommarscen). Such a beautiful experience I hope we will get to play this show many more times outdoors as the feedback was astounding.
Last night I went on a fly visit to Copenhagen to visit the KIT Nycirkus Festival (Copenhagen International Theatre’s Biennial New Circus Festival) and tonight saw a short visit to watch new circus in Malmö for Malmö Festival.
But as brilliant as this has all been, the summer is not over…. Next up of course is a week of madness at Edinburgh Fringe and then a visit to Lys Over Lolland on the remote Danish island.
April has been very busy… I’ve done everything from Evaluated the inaugural Curious School of Puppetry in London to been part of the Jury for the new Masters Programme in Contemporary Circus Practises at DOCH in Stockholm . I’ve worked with the wonderful Lars Garpenfeldt at Danscentrum Syd in Malmö as an Associate Producer to kickstart a project about Contemporary Dance pieces in a commercial setting.
I was asked to pop over to Circus Fest in London as a guest-provocateur to deliver a provocation to the Salon on ‘Circus and Gender’. Some interesting and unexpected (?) conversation happened which I will reflect on separately when headspace allows.
And we also had a really interesting away day session with the Circomedia board and Directors. Some good developments on the horizon for the organisation including conversations on internationalisation and increased Outreach/Education work and disability agenda.
I’ve started working/volunteering part-time with Karavan – Scenrum för cirkus och musik in Malmö, Sweden to help them spread the word about their activities online. Soon their website will be up and running again!
In May the international agenda continues as I go on my first and ridiculously exciting research trip to Finland to work with the Circus Info Finland during Cirko Festival in Helsiniki, funded by KulturKontakt Nord. The aim of the trip is to share best practise in Cultural and Festival Management, but also to investigate behind the scenes of the Circus Info Finland model – the only one in the world of this kind.
I’ve just received my schedule which includes networking with artists in sauna – yes that’s right, not for the faint hearted. I can’t contain my excitement.
The reason I’ve decided to take up this blogging again is because I will be keeping a record of the research in Finland as a series of blogs of documented thoughts and experiences. Keep an eye on these here. If you find anything interesting and would like to discuss please dive in.
This Monday coming we at Circus City are hosting a Discussion with The Ricochet Project, in Bristol.
If you are in Bristol do not miss as it’s a chance to chat about the ‘why’ of making socially and politically engaged work, rather than the ‘how’ with this US based company.
Now the snow is disappearing lets delight in the sunshine,
Currently very excited and proud to be part of this new initiative headed by Sarah Wright and launching in London January 2016.
The Curious School of Puppetry is a new course run by world-class practitioners over a 10 week period in London. It’s open to anyone to apply and if you are interested there are taster days/Satellite workshops all over the country which you can attend free of charge. In Bristol the workshop is set to happen the 2nd of September 2015. I’m sure I will have more info on this soon, but in the meantime check the brand new website for more info http://curiouspuppetry.com/