Artistic Director Billy has written this reflection of some days spent working with Chris and Phoebe Bullzini last month, exploring a new collaboration:
“Last year we created two large-scale, award-winning high-wire shows at Bestival and the Tall Ships Races in Sunderland (the latter of which was featured on BBC 4 documentary Daredevils and Divas: A Night at the Circus) in collaboration with the Bullzini Family. Both of these shows gave me some of my happiest, most nervous moments in circus and have inspired us to take this poetic mix of circus, theatre and live music to a whole new level with a brand-new show we’re calling ‘Seraph’.
Storytelling has always been important to me at whatever scale we work at, but it takes time to layer in the storytelling when the artists are working 40 feet up in the air; it’s a process that can’t be rushed. So in early April, we gathered together a group of exceptional international musicians and circus artists, at the home of wirewalking family the Bullzini’s, to enable both companies to explore what this new highwire spectacular could become. We have been working with Chris and Phoebe Bullzini for three years now and it has been a really exciting and rich collaboration. This new show though could be our most exciting collaboration yet.
The wire is configured in similar way to the previous shows with two 36 metre wires suspended one above the other. We have added a small platform in the centre of the lower wire, 8m above ground which we will use as stage for handbalancers, musicians and singers. It creates another place for theatre and circus with fantastic sight lines for large audiences. Below the platform we set up a counterweight system so aerialists can be flown on trapeze, hoop and rope. We plan also to create a new band stage connected at 2m high to one of the towers with an option to attach another low artistic wire, adding a third level to the wire walking system.
We experimented with hand balance on the stage using both hand balance canes and free balance on the platform. It took a lot of courage for Steff to trust her balance skills on the platform which is nowhere near as stable as a ground supported stage. After adjusting the rigging, working out the best orientation for her hands on the platform, she worked it out and it looked incredible. We then tested out the counterweight system with Angelique on a flown dance trapeze, which worked beautifully and created some stunning images.
High wire walkers, Chris and Adam worked on some new choreography on the wire creating some beautiful images as Chris hung from one hand underneath the wire with Adam walking above him between his hands. The images of Chris and Adam as angels who have fallen from grace, dishevelled, wings torn and smouldering was very strong.
With live music at the heart of the show, we’re delighted to be working with musicians Heg Brignall and Julu Irvine on a haunting new original score. Both Heg and Julu worked on the award-winning Portolan last year and will be joined by long time Cirque Bijou and Bullzini musical collaborator Fergie. As well as experimenting with a brand-new score we also introduced a live music element, flying violinist Aelfwyn Shipton between the two 12m high structures between which the wires are suspended. This new score and live music underpinned some beautifully intricate and jaw-dropping visual moments”.
‘Seraph’ is available to book for large scale events from Summer 2019. Contact us to find out more.