Friday, 18 April 2014

Cirque Tsuki

A SOUTH London office basement is the setting for an immersive theatre show which tells three different stories based on folklore from around the world.
Using a blend of shadow puppetry, magic, juggling, music, theatre and dance the performers in The Three Rings Of Cirque Tsuki lead the audience on a journey across continents exploring a trilogy of stories - Birthday, Feast and Parade - that together make up the show.
But not only are there the three separate stories, within the framework of the production is a half hour at the beginning of each show in which the audience is introduced to and gets to know the performers's characters.
Over the course of the three pieces they see them grow and develop as both individuals and as a community and have a chance to interact with them.
It is being performed by ImmerCity, a Southwark-based theatre company set up two years ago and specialising in immersive, site specific and interactive theatre.
"It's very intense and sounds complex but it all knits together so those who come and see it will find out all about the different characters who make up the circus troupe," explains director Rosanna Mallinson.
"It's set inside a circus and told by the community of circus performers. The idea is that over the course of the trilogy, the audience becomes part of their community and shares their back story."
The first one is based on the fairytale Little Red Riding Hood. The second is inspired by 1,001 Arabian Nights and the third is Night Parade, a dark and haunting tale from Japan.
They are performed by a group of about 12 with a core of six who are in all three shows.
"At the beginning of the first show, Birthday, we get to see the circus performers arrive, introducing themselves to one another, and finding out why they had left their old lives behind to join the circus," explains Rosanna.
"There is a birthday party that the audience is invited to so there is a lot of laughter and celebration.
"In Feast, the second one, the performers discover love, play cards, do fortune telling and encourage the audience to join them. This carries on into the third piece, Parade, although by now they are older and are beginning to suffer loss and death.
"Each story and its themes are darker than the last and by the time we get to Parade it is much quieter and more serious and sombre."
The idea for The Three Rings Of Cirque Tsuki was born out of previous shows ImmerCity had done and Rosanna's love for immersive theatre.
"We started exploring the ideas for it back in January so it's been quite an intense few months to get it to a point where we are happy to bring it to an audience," she says.
"We looked at the origins of circus and of folk stories and fairytales from around the world and how they affect us.
"We also looked at what happens when a person joins a circus and how that person has to give up their life to be part of that community."
At the end of a series of workshops and discussions The Three Rings Of Cirque Tsuki was born and will be staged between now and April 27 in the basement of Babel Studios in Southwark Bridge Road.
"We love this part of South London and are based in Southwark so it made sense to put the show on here," says Rosanna.
"The owner was very interested in the project and was happy for us to use and transform the space.
"It's quite a small area but we have turned it in to a black and white circus with a circus ring which looks amazing," she adds.
"It's going to be very theatrical but the emphasis is very much on the storytelling and we hope the audiences will enjoy being part of this amazing journey."

The Three Rings Of Cirque Tsuki is on at the Babel Studios until Sunday, April 27. Tickets £15, £7.50 concessions. Visit to book.

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