For the past 5 years, arts development organisation Certain Blacks have curated various festivals supporting a range of theatre voices. Diversifying our industry, they ‘present art from the margins [and bring them] into the mainstream’. Their latest offering, ‘Circus Circus Circus’ showcases an eclectic line up of live art, spoken word, jazz, opera and circus and takes over Rich Mix London and Hoxton Hall throughout November. Artistic Director Clive Lyttle tells us more about curating this year’s line up, how he’s found the process of supporting artists and how artists can get involved with future events!
Hi Clive, Circus Circus Circus Festival will take place at Rich Mix London and Hoxton Town Hall throughout November. How are you feeling ahead of the festival?
I’m feeling excited ahead of Circus Circus Circus. It has been developed over the last two years and it follows a residency at 101 Creation Space at Greenham Common with Upswing Aerial Circus Director Vicki Amedume. It will be great to see the new circus shows created and seen in the festival, these include Out Of Order‘s Once Standing about a couple at the end of the world and Joana Dias‘ 89, an aerial hoop show that explores identity, heritage and the impact of trauma.
Circus Circus Circus is a festival of live art, spoken word, jazz, opera and circus. What inspired you to curate a festival featuring these forms?
There is a great connection between these arts forms and diverse performances. Within the live art in Jamal Harwood’s Word there is a sense of play and audience involvement. This can also be seen in Hip Hop Palace from Marv Radio and Muti Musafiri presenting Hip Hop dance and spoken word. Brian Lobel’s 24 Italian Songs and Arias looking at failure, loss and family featuring soprano Gweneth-Anna Rand.
Rowland Sutherland’s London Arts Collective includes Rachel Musson – tenor sax and flute, Pat Thomas – keyboard and electronics, Orphy Robinson – xylosynth and electronics, Ansuman Biswas – percussionist, Indian strings and non-Western flutes, Alec Dankworth – doublebass, Mark Sanders – drums all of whom are outstanding individual musicians in this innovative ensemble.
These all feature improvisation and play along with storytelling which are fantastic ways to produce new, diverse theatre.
How did you decide who would take part in the festival?
All the artists taking part have a good relationship with Certain Blacks and some we have supported to make new work. Both Brian Lobel and Jamal Harewood worked with artists at our 101 Creation Space residency to create new circus that has live art influences and the results can be seen in Utopia from Symone and Once Standing from Out of Order at Hoxton Hall on 22nd November. We have also supported 24 Italian Songs and Arias on 8th November. All of this is part of the development we do with artists.
You’re the Artistic Director of Certain Blacks; an arts development organisation known for programming diverse theatre festivals and supporting theatre forms that an audience wouldn’t necessarily see in the mainstream. How have you found the process of supporting new voices?
I have found that there is a need to support the development of new work and voices. This includes supporting the rehearsal and development of artists and their work. Some of it has taken almost two years to support some new work and hopefully this shows in the level of performances and new stories that are told. Utopia (Terms and conditions apply) tells the story of being part of a cult, roller skates, hula hoops and disco and has had the space to grow through support from us and our partners Upswing. Symone is a circus artist that works with these mediums to tell a very personal story.
What can audiences expect from the festival?
I think the audiences can expect great surprises and challenging events, 24 Italian Songs and Arias provides an opportunity to see opera in an intimate space at Rich Mix. Jamal Harewood’s Word will provide audiences an opportunity to explore their use and relationship to language and how these impact on individuals. Rowland Sutherland explores music influenced by Sun Ra and John Coltrane and Hip-Hop Palace explores the spiritual relationships within music, dance and spoken word.
What would you like for audiences to take away from the festival?
I’d like the audience to come away with a sense of enjoyment and wonderment from the shows and possibly some learning from their stories.
What advice would you give to aspiring theatre makers and festival curators?
My advice would be to keep making and showing work. It has taken time to develop the current Certain Blacks programme and present work that has taken time to make.
How can prospective artists get involved with future Certain Blacks projects?
Questions by Lucy Basaba.
Circus Circus Circus will take place from Thursday 7th until Saturday 22nd November 2019 at both Rich Mix and Hoxton Hall. To find out more about the festival, visit here…