Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Chapter 205: Postcard from London

Lost In Translation Circus, 25 July 2017
Photo: Peter Maclaine
For Circus 250

I was at the physio the other day at St George's Hospital in a follow up appointment for my finger that was dislocated and broken in a freak accident. Freak as in not circus related, as everyone initially assumes. It has thrown a curve ball at my confidence, as much in terms of the possibilities of what can go wrong, as the pain of what has gone wrong. For the past few weeks, as a result, my body language has been screaming out: I'm vulnerable, go ahead and knock me out.

The physio's pragmatic response and strengthening exercises got me out of the doldrums, and then came a further boost: "I went to see some circus at Underbelly on your recommendation Lucy, the last time you were here". What did you see? Did you enjoy yourself? It turned out she had seen the Canadian production "Attrape-Moi" (Catch Me), ironically one of the shows I had been dying to see but hadn't managed to squeeze in. She was blown away by the energy, and the way her face lit up talking about it, recharged me in turn. That's what I love about the effect circus has on people. That evening, inpsired, I signed up for a package of classes at the local gym, and went to my first class this morning. Circuits, kickboxing punching bags - good grief, I'm about to land a broken toe! - squats and press-ups, the full monty. Channelling my inner Betty Bedlam (see also post on Box B*tch and catch at Jacksons Lane this Saturday night click here), the bitch is back! So to speak.

Lost In Translation Circus' Annabel Carberry
On Monday I also heard about the press photo-call for the launch of the Circus250 logo, designed by Sir Peter Blake, with the fantastic Norwich-based Lost In Translation Circus doing phenomenal, crazy circus stunts opposite the Houses of Parliament, just down the road from where Philip Astley set up his first sawdust ring 250 years ago. In 2018 Circus250, thanks to the organisation of writer Dea Birkett, will be celebrating with circus happenings, performances and events indoors and outdoors in Big Tops, theatres, churches (churcus is the term coined by Kate Kavanagh of The Circus Diaries!), museums, festivals and sawdust rings all over the UK and Ireland, and in the specially designated "circus cities" like London and Norwich.

It was an eye-opener. For over an hour the performers repeated stunts again and again, with subtle changes of angle and timing to get just the right moment captured for posterity. Just as my heart-rate adapted to watching the flips in the air over a concrete crashmat, then there were handstands on the wall with a sheer drop to the Thames, and on the back of a precarious bench, that set it in overdrive again. It was easier watching through a lens, and I snapped away on my camera too, for my own circus scrapbook. While I cherish my unofficial snapshots, the morning really brought home the importance of professional photography as a record and testimonial, how effective image (as in the visual) is as an ambassador for performing arts, and how damn photogenic circus is!

Here's how it happened:


  1. The image at the top is certainly impressive. I have a newfound respect for the courage to perform such stunts.

  2. Yes, I hear you Dan, and Lost In Translation Circus weren't doing the stunt as a one-off but over and over again. The photo-call lasted for a good hour!