Six Of The Best: Hannah Thompson (CIRC Motif) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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CIRC Motif is a contemporary circus theatre company comprised of the regions best circus performers with an aim to grow the North East’s contemporary circus sector. Their high-quality circus, dance, theatre and musical composition creates a rich artistic performance, full of nuance which poetic imagery and jaw-dropping skills, that provokes audiences to look into themselves and each other.

Their latest production The Art of Cuddling & Other Things is an attempt to combat the rise in depression and isolation in the region. The show amplifies the topics of humanity and projects images of a shared existence in the hope it reminds us all of the importance of staying human.

Ahead of her performance at Alphabetti, Newcastle between Tuesday 17th – Saturday 21st September, company founder and director Hannah Thompson gives us her top 6 influences on CIRC’ Motifs work today. 

When people think of the word circus, big tops and oversized clown shoes appear, but today, in the contemporary circus scene we are far from fresh popping popcorn and expensive flashing spinning light toys. In fact, contemporary circus is handing in its spangly sequined leotards for a cleaner fresh, modern look. At least that is what CIRC Motif are doing. It’s not about over the top light displays and playing the latest chart music over our acts, for us it’s about art, about making the audience feel, and to explore what we as humans are capable of. For me, the human body has always been an interesting and incredible thing. When I first encountered circus in its raw unconditioned form, I wasn’t thinking about how cool they looked or how relevant the act was, I was thinking how is a human body capable of such phenomenal things? 

Acrobatic bodies flying through the air grabbing ropes and bars with one hand, or even a foot, all with ease and grace, how? Ultimately we are not here for the fancy backdrop or the super tight leggings (albeit some of us are..) but we are there to witness the human form and what it is capable of. That’s what I want to achieve with my company, the rawness circus exhibits. Strip away the distractions and project the intense physicality of the body to challenge our assumptions of what it is to be human. This is what we aim to achieve with our show “The Art of Cuddling & Other Things…” to explore being human through circus and project traits of the collective humanity in an amplified form.

In the run-up to devising, I like to remind myself of the people that create the best circus theatre out there and move audiences all around the world. Here’s my top 6…

Buster Keaton
The world’s best stuntman and clown (in my opinion) who performed perfectly timed stunts without using a stunt double, wires or harnesses. He stormed the 1920’s with comedic genius in his silent movies, and still inspires circus performers to this day. Buster to this day is a rare and wonderful portrait of what is capable of a human body.

Cirque Le Roux
A company which perfectly mixes world-class circus performance with narrative theatre. Cirque le roux make you feel like you are part of the coolest gang in the world, an extension of what you are seeing on the stage. Their show “The Elephant in the Room” takes you into another world, a silent world. Like you are in a silent movie witnessing first-hand real experiences and risk on stage. 

Giffords Circus
Another circus that transports you into worlds in the one and only Gifford’s. They have perfected the circus experience and adapted it to house all human era’s, stories and narratives under their big top. They are non-traditional – traditional, meaning they have tents, wagons, horses and clowns but they do what circus was born to do, tell a story.  

Circus Ronaldo
Normally a one-man show, Ronaldo take clown to the extreme. If you are going to see his show expect fire, nudity, death and high skill. Circus Ronaldo takes risks, and that’s what I love about this company. You can’t expect anything because this show is a wild card.

Les 7 doigts (The seven fingers)
Superduper famous company that makes anything possible. In my eyes, they’re like a cool Cirque Du Soleil. More edgy but the same budget. The seven fingers are a company that I look up to because they started as a small collective and created a huge demand for an art form that made them one of the biggest companies in the circus world. This reminds me to stay persistent, keep making great art and curate a demand. 

Lot’s of bodies being used as tools to show simple and exaggerated motifs. Simple, beautiful circus. CIRCA! Alike Les 7 Doigts is a large scale contemporary circus company who create pieces of live performance art, using circus as a storytelling device. They create pieces in which you could place yourself, as an audience member, on stage. You can smell the chalk, feel the tempo. Raw circus. 

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