The National Centre for Circus Arts is vastly becoming the hub for the most exciting talent within Europe, especially within the UK, having produced a range of acts that have gone on to add their stamp onto a genre that could otherwise be thought of as an ancient art. National Centre for Circus Arts alumni, Silver Lining are at the beginnings of adding their own voice to the circus landscape, having been described as “some of the freshest acts in Britain”. Silver Lining’s founder, Tom Ball speaks to us about the company’s latest piece, Throwback which will be showing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Hi Tom, Silver Lining will be showcasing Throwback at this year’s Edinburgh Festival. How are you feeling ahead of the festival?
I am so excited for the festival this year but also nervous! It’s the first time Silver Lining has had the chance to take its work to the fringe and that is great – I just hope everyone likes it! We have put so much of ourselves into the show but now it’s the opportunity to see what the fringe thinks. We think it’s going to be a blast!
Throwback is a piece looking at the power of memory and nostalgia. What inspired Silver Lining to create a work looking at those themes?
Silver Lining has always loved being honest, having fun and making our audiences smile. We came across a video online which was one of these ’50 people 1 question’ projects. The question they asked were things like ‘What is your favourite memory?’ and the responses and reactions were amazing! When you look back on your life it has the power to make you laugh, cry and everything in between. That’s what we want to bring to an audience: a blast from the past that makes you remember things you have forgotten and leaves a smile on your face.
How as a collective did you go about creating the show?
We always like to create a space where all the people in the room can contribute and throw in ideas. This time we brought in two directors, Paulette Randall and Simon Pollard, to guide us and bring out all our best bits to create a super show. As the show is about looking back at our memories, everyone was constantly taking us down memory lane and revealing more about themselves and that’s what ended up going into the show. Everyone’s ideas (of which there were many!) were put together and Paulette and Simon did such a wonderful job of stringing it all together into what I hope is a great show for everyone!
As the founder of Silver Lining, you have created a company allowing for the brightest talents in Circus to showcase an art form that is truly enjoying a resurgence. What inspired the formation of the company?
Well it all kind of started by mistake.. During our time studying at the National Centre for Circus Arts there was a group of seven of us that wanted a bit more experience performing before graduation. I decided to stage a night at my old youth theatre, Playbox Theatre, and we threw a show together, called it Silver Lining, and performed it. We had such a great time working together and performing together that whenever the opportunity came up again we said yes and got everyone involved just because we loved it! I think that is how the spirit of the company started too – a real desire to perform something to an audience and give your best self to them. Now it is more serious; we are associate artists of Jacksons Lane and have had so much support from the National Centre and Underbell. It’s funny to think back to that being the beginning, but it is still such a blast and pleasure to perform with all the cast members we have worked with!
Many of the collective trained at the very well respected National Centre for Circus Arts, a pioneering school offering 1 of the only degree courses in Circus. Are we doing enough in the UK to champion the art form?
I think everyone could always do more! But that is because I love circus and think everyone should have the chance to see/do more. I think the UK has definitely been working to support circus as an art form. We have had so much support over the past couple of years and I think the public is really starting to love where circus is going and what it is doing. Venues across the country have been bringing amazing international artists over and increasingly supporting emerging artists from the UK. But I always think there could be more!
Why do you feel that Circus has enjoyed a resurgence within the past few years in the UK?
It’s exciting and daring and brilliant! I think people doing what we thought to be impossible is amazing. Over the past couple of decades, people are developing circus from its traditional roots keeping it accessible and intriguing to a whole new audience. The different theatre and dance elements, along with the huge range of different venues that can support different circus productions, has made it new and exhilarating to see. Who wouldn’t want to go?!
Will you be watching any other shows at this year’s festival?
There are a few I am excited to see. Obviously Underbelly’s entire Circus Hub is full of amazing circus work. They have such a fantastic line up that I cannot wait to see everything there! I’m also keen to see Pondwife – another throwback show which takes us back to the 90s. Plus, I can’t wait to see Betty Grumble: sex clown saves the world as I have seen her perform before and think she is just brilliant. There is so much stuff I could go on for days – I cannot wait!
What advice would you give to aspiring circus performers?
Keep going, keep training, and get creative! It can be pretty tough at times but the payoff can be so great. I am amazed at how far my career has managed to take me and I feel like it’s only just started! The reward is definitely worth all of the pain!
Questions by Lucy Basaba.
Throwback is currently showing at Underbelly’s Circus Hub on the Meadows (Venue 360) until Monday 22nd August. For more information on the production, visit here…