Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Chapter 200: Postcards Festival at Jacksons Lane

Hallelujah it's Legs Akimbo!(Photo: Hannah Nash)

Postcards Festival 2017 kicks off at Jacksons Lane next Tuesday (11 July), extended this year to three weeks of live performance and dead funny cabaret, circus and comedy. Expect mash-ups between genres and gender, nudity and explicitly adult content in some shows and others that are family friendly. 

Two Tongue Theatre's Sharlit Deyzac 
Along with several artists in Postcards Festival, I went along yesterday to the in-house presentation to the Jacksons Lane board to hear more about the line-up, as well as talk about the circus cabaret I'm curating - Shhh! Adrian Berry, Artistic Director, took the floor. This is his 15th season presentation, the seventh year of Postcards, and there was lots to celebrate. The idea for Postcards came about when Ade found that there were a number of bite-sized pieces of performance around that deserved a platform, but were not full-length, and the evenings are a series of snapshots into the cutting edge of performance art, comprising solo shows, double-bills and an eclectic variety. The evening is Pay what you decide, and I love the ethos of accessibility behind that, so book now and contribute on the night.


Circus Abyssinia
The two shows I would definitely take my kids to see are Circus Abyssinia  and Morgan & West's Parlour Tricks. 

Circus Abyssinia comprises acrobats from the Ethiopian circus school set up by the phenomenal Bibi and Bichu, beloved of Giffords Circus and Gandini Juggling, who I have seen perform both in a Big Top and on stage at the English National Opera (click here). This show is an semi-autobiographical story of two young boys who dream of running of to the circus, as featured in the Giffords show Moon Songs (click here). Astonishing physical skills, extraordinary. Morgan & West are a duo of time-travelling magicians who serve up slick, jaw-dropping stunts with debonair flair.  They have fooled Penn & Teller, and that's enough for me.


George Orange (Photo: Mark Robson)
Sharlit Deyzac, one half of Two Tongue Theatre talked about  Boys Club, their revolutionary drag king show. Mentored and directed by dark clown Peta Lily (see post - click here), I have seen their show twice now, encore!, but won't share the link to the review here for the spoiler alert. Funny, feisty and no holds barred.
Sean Kempton
Cirque de Soleil maestro clown Sean Kempton brings Stuff to Jacksons Lane after a knock-out tour over the past year. I saw it premiere at the London ClownFest last year (see post - click here). Through mime, dance and some gently brilliant audience improv, Sean takes us on a journey of love in all its absurdity and sheer joy. 

Great to hear George Orange is bringing his show First Lady to the festival, charting the true story of his relationship, falling for the man who ran for president... in a dress. I've seen George several times in Crashmat Collective and with the Mary Bijou Cabaret, and most recently at a work in progress at The Roundhouse. He has a deliciously wicked sense of humour, a smooth, genuine charm, and is a true raconteur.

Sarah Blanc with Jason Donovan

I saw Sarah Blanc last year in Flappers cabaret last year and so pleased she is back with a solo show It started with Jason Donovan. As someone who watched the first ever episode of Neighbours, this is especially for me, quite frankly. As well as being naturally hilarious, Blanc is also an amazing dancer, choreographing Alula's Hyena (click here) in the early days, so expect physical comedy on a par with spoken word.


Tanter (Andreas Bergman)
From Blanc's "banter dance at its finest" to Tanter circus bringing Vixen to the festival in a London premiere. I have been following this company with interest on Instagram and social media for a couple of years now. Graduates from Stockholm circus school of DOCH, they pick apart female stereotypes in an innovative way through stellar skills in trapeze, rope and slackline, are very funny, and a entertaining jazz song about a uterus has to be a first.

Living Room Circus
It was great to hear from Living Room Circus,
who are an experimental company formed of National Centre for Circus Arts graduates. They bring circus to all sorts of unusual spaces and will explore every nook and cranny of Jacksons Lane in unexpected ways in The Penguin and I. Surreally talented, an immersive production, in many ways it will be like a circus blind date. 

Dizzy O'Dare
Cypher Stories is an evening curated by Kieran Warner and Chris Thomas (see post) melding hip hop, Cyr wheel and acrobatics. It will be high energy with awesome dance as much as circus skills on display.

Tightwire can potentially be a limiting discipline to have an entire show built round it, but it is possible as Dizzy O'Dare show in the beautiful show Rise (which I saw in its R&D stage - click here) exploring life and love with striking images, comedy, live music and tenderness. Double bill: Jair Ramirez and Laura Murphy. Jair's show Sugarman premiered at The Place in January (see post - click here), and is one man's struggle to escape the daily grind. Jair is well-known as a superb aerialist, but here you will also see his clown emerge and it's a beautiful show. Laura Murphy has an an "awkward" muscly, female body which she interrogates, as well as the space it occupies, in her exploratory show Contra.


Sadie Sinner (Photo: Lena Lenman)
With the image of Postcards poster girl Sadie Sinner from The Cocoa Butter Speakeasy all over social media and on tube posters, I was looking forward to seeing her in action. Even watching just a snippet of queer black female cabaret on a television screen, albeit on stage, on a Tuesday afternoon, had the Friday night vibes going. Soak in the cocoa butter jam of fierce skills, music and voices of performers of colour out and proud, and let them rub you up the right way.

If you're looking more for Sunday worship, what better place for some Pentecostal mojo that the ecclesiastical architecture of the former church that is Jacksons Lane? Fresh from Glastonbury Legs Akimbo bring Oh My God! It's The Church with a live band, praise the lord, and are determined to get the party started. Playfully sacrilegious, their website says it all.

The Late Night Shop (Photo: Sin Bozkurt)
Billed as sex clowns you might be forgiven for thinking that The Late Night Shop cabaret is more red lights of Amsterdam than theatre festival, but it's less cock and more Le Coq, from where the artists all graduated. With a DJ on stage, expect grotesquely funny non-verbal clowning around. Hocus Pocus Theatre bring the world of a sleazy speakeasy to Jacksons Lane in Guilty Party with dress code of "uninhibited prohibition" and live music until midnight.

And what of the festival finale Shhh! on 29 July? It will have artists from the worlds of circus, burlesque, cabaret and just a touch of magic.  Post to follow, watch this space...

To book tickets and for more information: (click here)

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