The London International Mime Festival has been a treasure trove of visual and physical theatre since its inception in 1977. The OBE bestowed on co-founder Joseph Seelig this year has been well deserved for his tireless promotion of performances that often defy categorisation and therefore miss out on much mainstream venue programming in the UK.
Last year I questioned myself over where the pieces I saw were ‘circus‘ enough but, with this year’s festival – which runs from 8th-31st January – there is no question that the programme embraces wholeheartedly the surge of high quality circus-based offerings.
Even more importantly, in my eyes, is the impressive British presence amongst the circus arts on show. The festival opens with Barely Methodical Troupe’s Bromance, whose debut at Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year won the inaugural Jacksons Lane Total Theatre Award for Circus Theatre. The acrobatic exploration of male friendship plays at Platform Theatre from 8th-10th.
The World Premiere of Gandini Juggling‘s new show 4 X 4: Ephemeral Architectures, a collaboration with The Royal Ballet, runs at the Royal Opera House from 13th-15th and gentleman juggler Mat Ricardo returns to the line-up for the second year in a row with a reworked version of Showman (Southbank Centre, 19th-21st).
The UK flag also flies at Jacksons Lane, where clown Chris Lynam presents ErictheFred from 15th-17th in the story of an old trooper trying to come to terms with his faded glory. Then from 24th-25th they host Joli Vyann, who combine contemporary dance with acrobatic exploration in Stateless. NoFit State are there too, showing their first production for theatre spaces, Noodles, from 27th-31st. Maksim Kosaro’s original concept has had additional direction from Holly Stoppit since it’s Edinburgh Fringe outing in 2012, and I look forward to seeing how it’s evolved.
Knights Of The Invisible also hail from our shores, and combine contortion and aerial skills in the dance-based Black Regent, at the Southbank Centre from 24th-25th.
Unsurprisingly there is French fare on the menu too, with Lonely Circus‘ FALL/FELL/FALLEN, showing feats of balance and electro-acoustic musicianship at the Southbank Centre from 10th-11th; Aurélien Bory’s Compagnie 111 present Plexus, a collaboration with dancer Kaori Ito as a uniquely suspended marionette that plays at Sadler’s Wells from 22nd-23rd; Oktobre comes from a company of the same name, made up of an acrobat, trapeze artist and magician, with a show described as ‘something from a David Lynch or Tim Burton movie‘ at the Southbank Centre from 23rd-25th.
The Southbank Centre also hosts vintage-vaudeville Belgians, Circus Ronaldo, with their travelling fairground style theatre production Amortale from 16th-18th, and from New Zealand – via Finland in collaboration with Circo Aereo – is Thomas Monckton with his elegant solo clown concert The Pianist, from 14th-18th.
Finally, Circo Aereo will be presenting four short films at Jacksons Lane, showcasing 4 different circus disciplines from unusual viewpoints. These screenings are FREE on 30th and 31st.
It’s times like these I wish I lived in London!