Friday, January 4, 2013

The 2013 London International Mime Festival

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It's that time of the year again when I wish I were in London instead of New York. The reason of course is the 37th edition of the London International Mime Festival, which runs January 10–27. Calling it a mime festival is less accurate than its subtitle of "contemporary visual theatre." Maybe it was more mime-y back in 1977, but these days it's a rousing mixture of puppetry, nouveau cirque, clowning, dance, mime, juggling and everything in-between. Especially in-between.

Here are seven shows that look to score high marks in the physical comedy department. Descriptions are from the festival program.

Circle of Eleven (Germany)

I saw this show in New York, loved it, and wrote about it in this earlier post.

Leo throws you upside down, tilts you sideways and messes with your head in the most glorious, brain-tickling way. Reminiscent of a wordless Samuel Beckett scenario in which a man seeks meaning in his isolation, inventing games to while away the time, Leo combines world-class acrobatics, visual artistry and clever film manipulation in a journey of joyful discovery and invention. This is physical theatre taken to creative and imaginative heights. With gravity distorted, you’ll be wondering which way is up and which way down in one man’s fantastical playground. Based on an original idea by German acrobat, Tobias Wegner, Leo has been an off-Broadway hit, a winner of multiple awards, including Best of Edinburgh, and is now touring the world. You will be astonished!

Click here for their web site.

Compagnie 111 
Aurélien Bory (France)
Plan B 

I also saw this in New York, as well as two other Compagnie 111 productions, and recommend them highly.

Performed on a cunning, tilting set, a source of tricks and transformations, this astonishing spectacle unfolds like a dream. A thrilling mix of circus, dance, video, 'sonic' object manipulation and optical illusion, Plan B juggles with gravity and perspective. Ten years since its creation, Aurélien Bory and Phil Soltanoff have remounted their visual theatre classic which comes to the Southbank Centre direct from a month-long season in Paris. Aurélien's work has been a regular highlight of the Mime Festival since its first appearance in 2002 with IJK ('Think of it as Stomp with balls or Mondrian on acid' —Sunday Times) and most recently in 2011 with Sans Objet, his acclaimed piece for two juggler/acrobats and industrial robot. Seeing is believing, or more likely not!

Click here for their web site.

My!Laika (France)
Popcorn Machine 

My!Laika’s world is apocalyptic, an electric landscape where a surprising present coexists with an unknown past. There’s humour, bold acrobatics, a well-played Chopin waltz – even a popcorn volcano amongst other delights in this hour of surprising circus theatre, in which three charismatic women and one man live out a series of implausible scenes. Frank Zappa, Jacky Chan, Kurt Schwitters and The Ramones were inspirational in creating this fast-moving collage of bizarre and entertaining events which fuse circus discipline and rich imagination, a winner at the prestigious Jeunes Talents Cirque Awards in 2010.

Click here for their web site.

Ockham's Razor (UK)

Not Until We Are Lost 
An immersive promenade performance which brings the audience right into the heart of the action, while narrative and images unfold around them. With world class aerial work, and powerful acrobatics performed on specially designed structures, the new show creates an environment which is both physically and emotionally affecting. It questions how fixed is the world around us. Sometimes you need a shift in perspective to find your way.

Click here for their web site.

Zimmermann & de Perrot (Switzerland)
Hans Was Heiri 

I haven't seen this one, but I did catch their Gaff Aff in New York and it was amazing.

Following their success with Öper Öpis in 2010, Swiss choreographer Martin Zimmermann and composer Dimitri de Perrot return to the Barbican with a company of outstanding physical performers, and their latest production fusing circus, theatre, music and visual arts. Catch your breath as seven performers tumble through an astonishing spinning house whose inhabitants miraculously live life through 360 degrees, jumping, climbing or dancing. Mixing circus, theatre, music and dance, this funny, touching and almost physically-impossible performance will make you think about the cycle of life in an entirely new way.

Click here for their web site.

Wolfe Bowart (Australia)
Letter's End 

Mops sneeze, storks swoop in bearing gifts, trees grow out of shoes and long-lost letters tell their stories. The magic starts when an old toy falls out of a torn parcel and one man’s life is changed forever. Acclaimed theatre clown Wolfe Bowart, who made his UK debut at LIMF’07 with the enchanting LaLaLuna, returns with the Helpmann Award-nominated Letter’s End. Weaving together his signature mix of physical comedy, illusion, shadow puppetry and interactive film, Bowart leads audiences of all ages on a dream-like journey down a most magical memory lane. Cut the string, tear open the brown paper, and enter the realm of the fantastic.  The adventure begins here!

Click here for his web site.

Gandini Juggling (UK)

Smashed is a sensational mix of skill and theatricality inspired by the work of seminal German dance-theatre maker, Pina Bausch. Nine extraordinary performers, eighty apples and crockery galore combine in a series of nostalgic filmic scenes, hinting at conflict and tense relationships, lost love and the quaintness of afternoon tea.

Click here for their web site.

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