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Interview with circus troupe A Simple Space

29 April 2015 Laura Stevens

Australian circus ensemble, Gravity & Other Myths, are returning to London's Udderbelly Festival with their breath taking show A Simple Space. London Calling caught up with acrobat, Jascha Boyce, from the troupe and talked audience involvement, mid show injuries and inspirational circus performers.

London Calling: Your work looks incredible! How did you go about creating the show?

Jascha Boyce: A Simple Space was initially created as a 30 minute show at the beginning of 2013. Since then it has undergone many creative developments not only increasing the amount of material but also the number of artists in the show.

When the creation first began we had a few of the key acts but no clear thread to link them together – that is how the idea of games/challenges arose. As all the artists are close friends we often find ourselves challenging each other to little games both in the training space and just in general life.

We realised how much fun we had not only taking part in these challenges but also just observing them, which transferred so easily to the stage. We wanted to give our audiences an insight into what happens behind the scenes, in the training and rehearsal space, the exhaustion, the failures, the successes and above all the fun we have together.
 
LC: What training have you all undergone to get to the level you are today?

JB:
Most of us either started circus, gymnastics or dance at a very young age. The founding members of Gravity & Other Myths all grew up participating in youth circus at the Adelaide based circus school, Cirkidz. Two of our newer artists studied circus at DOCH, a high-level circus school in Sweden and our newest performer studied at the Fyling Fruit Fly Circus – a combined high school and circus school in Albury, New South Wales.
 
LC: How did you form Gravity & Other Myths?

JB: We formed Gravity & Other Myths in 2009 once we were all getting a little too old for the youth circus we were part of! After attending the National Circus Festival in Tasmania and seeing Les 7 Doigts De La Main perform Traces in Adelaide we were so inspired that we decided we want to create our own show. Our first work Freefall toured extensively around Australia until we created A Simple Space in 2013.
 
LC: What has been your most hair-raising moment on stage?

JB: Actually the most hair-raising moment onstage for us probably happened during our season in Udderbelly Festival last year. One of our performers was injured during the first act of the show and we continued through the entire show making changes on the fly! We successfully made it to the end and he is fully recovered and back in the show!
 
LC: How is the circus scene different here in the UK as opposed to Australia?

JB: We are only just starting to get to know the circus scene in the UK so it is a little hard to compare but London definitely has a growing circus community largely because of the National Centre for Circus Arts and the many festivals promoting contemporary circus throughout the year.

Considering the size of Australia we have a very intimate circus scene back home. There are currently two circus festivals that run every year, in Western Australia and NSW, that really bring the circus community together in Australia - circus people fly from all over Australia to take part so we are almost like one big family!
 

LC: How has A Simple Space changed since it was first performed?

JB: A Simple Space has changed a great deal since it was first performed. The show began as a 30 minute work with only five acrobats and one musician onstage. It now runs for 60 minutes and we have seven acrobats (but still only 1 musician).

The concept of the show has stayed consistent however having two years to expand on our initial ideas has meant that we have found so many different games and challenges to integrate into the work. The structure of the show also allows for a great deal of variation from show to show so we are constantly re-working and improving current acts while also creating new ones. This definitely helps to keep the show fresh and exciting for us.
 
LC: Who is the circus performer that inspires you?

JB: So many circus performers from all over the world inspire us! We have just spent a week in Montreal where we met performers from many professional circus companies as well as the students currently attending the Ecole Nationale De Cirque. Spending time training with and getting to know these amazing people definitely keeps us so inspired so wherever we go in the world we really try to connect with the local circus community.
 
LC: How do you keep fit while on tour and performing?

JB: Performing A Simple Space everyday definitely keeps us pretty fit but we also try to continue our training wherever we go. Sometimes this means we will just spend some extra time during the warm up for our show training new skills but we also try to find other training spaces in the cities that we are in where we can train with other circus artists as well.
 
LC: Your performances sit the audiences close to the stage. Has an audience member ever been involved in the show accidently?

JB: Yes! There have definitely been a couple of times where we have almost ended up sitting in the lap of someone in the front row but we have never had any serious accidents! The audience is definitely safe!
 
LC: Will you be going to Edinburgh this year?

JB: Unfortunately we will not be performing in Edinburgh this year. We are heading back to Australia during that time to continue the creative development of a new show so hopefully we will be back next year with some new, exciting work! Stay tuned!

A Simple Space is at the Udderbelly Festival 21 April to 24 May. For more information click here.
 

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