Serious Circus Symposium

Stumble Dance Circus

15 Feb 16 Feb
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Serious Circus Symposium

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A two-day symposium investigating how to make circus and physical performance more responsive to social needs and global crisis. 
A wide range of practitioners, educators and managers will share experiences, inspiration and information on radical practice, engagement as a priority, sustainable practice, collaborations with activists and campaigners, social, youth and community circus projects and creative devising with serious subjects.

Friday focus

The roles and responsibilities of physical performance schools, larger companies and institutions, with regards to activism, ethics and well-being. A panel discussion will be chaired by Orit Azaz, Circus and Theatre Director.

Friday speakers (in development):

  • Alison Tickell (founder of sustainability charity Julie’s Bicycle) will talk about her own personal journey understanding climate and the environment and how Julie’s Bicycle has responded to cultural challenges.
  • Franki Anderson (co-founder of Britain’s first circus theatre school, Fool Time in Bristol) will present a talk entitled ‘Send in the Clowns – the role of the fool when things go wrong.’ looking at how the physical performance industry can step up and participate in communities, be part of social change and how as individuals performers can reflect a global context.
  • Nikky Smedley (actress, dancer, choreographer, TV director and producer) will ask how making work for children is different to making it for adults, what role and responsibility physical performance has for younger audiences and how we make it meaningful for them.
  • Robin Peters (Development Manager at Circomedia and South West Regional Coordinator for the Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy Programme) will present ‘Good money, bad money: conversation and provocation on ethics and fundraising as an individual’, which will be followed by a breakaway workshop/discussion.
  • Glen Stewart (National Centre for Circus Arts)

Saturday focus

The actual making of work, the potential effects of physical performance and creative possibilities of engagement. A reflection of circus, dance and physical theatre art forms among symposium attendees will help keep conversations rich and informed.

Saturday Speakers (in development):

  • Andrea Carr
  • Mish Weaver (Artistic Director of Stumble danceCircus, teacher at NCCA and the brains behind the Serious Circus Symposium) will talk about the use of voice and text within physical performance practice. ‘When Circus speaks, what does it say?’ will consider the messages and research involved in communicating issues, the writing of text, the creative potential of getting physical performers to speak and the potential effects.
  • Darren O’Donnell (urban cultural planner, novelist, essayist, playwright, filmmaker, performance director and the Artistic and Founding Director of Mammalian Diving Reflex) will present a filmed talk to the Symposium followed by a video link Q&A.
  • Jess Allen

Find full information about the speakers and symposium here.

On Friday 15 February, 7.30pm, the public show A Night of Serious Circus at Jacksons Lane will showcase radical performance from circus and physical performance practitioners. Tickets can be individually purchased or bought as part of the Symposium full package.


Dates: Fri 15 & Sat 17 Feb 2019
Times: 10am–6pm each day (plus 7.30pm performance on Friday)

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