Circo Circolo festival, Netherlands; 23rd October 2014
A subterranean world of white drapes and stalactites of rope spreads from the stage into the foyer of the pointed big top, with its traditionally theatrical rows of raked seating. A universal whiteness has transcended purity and entered the world of maggots, of underworld creatures who never see the sun.
The disturbingly beautiful visuals of Knitting Peace – including Ulf Englund’s magnificent lighting design – combine with an exquisite flow of circus skills and haunting live music, manipulated electronically by Samuel ‘LoopTok‘ Andersson from his own cavern-like bandstage.
Cirkus Cirkör are one of the world’s most prominent contemporary circus companies. Founded in Sweden in 1995, they aim – like so many other artists – to change the world through their performance. Knitting Peace may not have a direct social impact, but director Tilde Björfors’ poetic concept is certainly thought provoking. The two act production highlights difference and isolation, advocating tolerance and offering hope amid our human struggles for control.
The acrobatic company of five are constructive one minute, destructive the next, or both simultaneously in their world of yarn and giant crochet. The first half establishes the otherworldly tone, allowing room in the second for higher level technical skills. These artists are not defined by a specific discipline, adding musicianship, live knitting and impeccable performance rigging to the ensemble display.
Aerialists Matleena Laine and Nathalie Bertholio tumble in a seemingly random mess of ropes, masking their expert precision. Mikael Kristiansen dances across globes of string in a solo hand-balance routine. Alexander Weibel Weibel walks an innovative pulleyed slack line, going nowhere. Aino Ihanainen twists upside-down inside a knitted skirt, stretching the knots into unusual figures.
Knitting Peace provides a landscape rather than a narrative, at times dark, at others humorously absurd, always shifting. Here is an opportunity for contemplation, and the view is marvellous.
As discussed here, this review was written to a maximum 300 word count in order to fit the criteria of another publication. It was a fascinating challenge, and has made me reflect on some of the pros and cons of taking my writing elsewhere.
- 300 words is not adequate to provide in depth documentation of current circus practise that is so vital to the development of the art form
- 300 words does not allow for technical description of how and why the various disciplines were utilised
- It hurts my brain
- It’s interesting to see how my language must adapt to an audience potentially unversed in circus terminology. Is it ok to say ‘slackline’ without describing what that is? Or ‘handbalance’? These words need to be entering everyday cultural vernacular, and this is the kind of writing that could put them there. I notice how circus language differs from theatre language – I use the sports-like ‘first half and second half’ because ‘act’ means something different in a circus sphere
- It makes me focus onto the essential aspects to communicate
- It hurts my brain
The bottom line is, I guess, that in order to make circus writing a sustainable vocation, I need someone to pay me every now and again. And, for that to happen, I need to fit a certain mold for a certain publication.
To any regular readers: What do you think? How do 300 word reviews sit with you?