“In this together” is the concept of a participatory circus show that at several points relies on the audience in order to happen at all. The basic intent is to extend the internal experiences of the artists to a wider public, to involve them close enough to let them experience the trust, focus and joy that is so intrinsic to our disciplines. This involves sharing some of the risk, in a controlled environment and is a major part of the research we intend to dive further into.
The experimental performance is realized within the framework of the Bethlen Téri Theatre’s DemArt project, which aims to democratize artistic commissions and commissions by involving local communities.
InThisTogether Workshop (Sophie Zoletnik, Lennart Paar, Márton Csuzi)
Trust – Is the most fundamental building block of partner acrobatics and many other aspects of circus. By working very closely and together with the audience, we want to heighten the experience of the trust we have in each other and the equipment we use, as well as show that it is possible to trust a group of people that you have never met, even with your life.
Communication – The longer we have worked together, the more emphasis on communication has been placed on our practices and our shows. It is the basis for moving forward together and will be an intricate part of this performance. Finding minimal, optimal, and interesting ways of communicating the possibilities of contribution that each member of the audience has.
Elation – To us and most every circus artist we have met, there is nothing better to do than this. We want to share this joy as directly as we can and experience the feeling that we are “in this together”.
Inspiration for this piece comes as an evolution of our own work but also from several companies: Le Cirque du Bout de Monde’s show “Der Lauf” involves the audience in a unique way, daring them to go further and further. Gravity & Other Myths’ “A Simple Space” showcases some acts that bring the audience very close and change their perspective. Anna Kristin McCarthy’s street show “All Strings Attached” works closely with the audience and the feeling of connectedness. The way we intend to develop these inspirations further is by involving the audience even closer, letting them be part of the creation. Maybe the closest inspiration would come from the musical field, where artists like Bobby McFerrin and Jakob Collier harness the potential of the crowd.
In addition to the two primary artists on stage, a third member of our collective will be acting as a facilitator and musician. His role is just as important, as he helps to involve the public, ensures safety, and sets the rhythm of the piece. Furthermore, we are considering the possibility of involving the audience musically with his guidance.
We are building on our experience as street performers and the ongoing movement to elevate street art to be on an equal footing with theater-based shows. While we do intend to create for the theater stage, our show will not take place in a traditional setting. Instead, the audience will be on the same level as the performers, with opportunities to change their positions and to be closely involved throughout the experience. As of now, we have started experimenting with four specific scenic ideas that might feature in the final performance. While we will shortly describe them here, the accompanying materials might serve as a better explanation. The drawings were the initial vision, and the pictures and images represent the early attempts at execution.
Together in the dark – The audience is getting headlamps; they have control of what they see. We plan to exclusively use these lights for the entire performance. The intent is to create an intimate atmosphere that serves as an invitation into a more personal space.
Circling together – A rope is rigged through a pulley in the middle of a circle, on one end there is an aerial hoop, on the other is a harness with Lennart in it. He is walking in a circle, slowly all the public is joining him. Sophie gets up to the aerial hoop, and she spins in the opposite direction. The audience contributes to the whole image, and their perspective is different because they walk with us.
I trust you to trust me – Connected through a single rope going through two pulleys: in the middle of the space and at the bottom of the wall. He is counterweighting her on the aerial hoop in a harness by leaning his weight in. In this manner, they explore partner acrobatics with aerials, with Sophie constantly shifting her weight between the apparatus and her base. Lennart has to balance in this setting, as every time Sophie is hanging on the aerial hoop, Lennart is being pulled backwards by the system. He can hold her and make her descend, he is just not quite heavy enough to lift her by himself. At a certain point, the viewers have to help him walk forward to lift her.
It’s in your hands – A scene with the audience lifting, holding, and descending the artists throughout a vertical dance scene. There are two pulley systems prepared with one of the performers at one end and multiple loops on the other end of the ropes for the audience to put around their waist. The audience can lift them by walking backwards, they decide collectively where they move the artists.
Bringing together hand in hand, aerial acrobatics and vertical dance offer a good baseline of technique, and we are already immersed in the research of the fusion of floor movement and dynamic rigging systems. We believe, however, that in a time where you can watch any trick on the internet, the most “circus” aspect of this show will be the close, visceral experience of risk, trust, and ultimately connection.
Previous workshop: https://youtu.be/wXoXeBT5BJo
Tickets: InThisTogether – Bethlen Színház
Organisers: Bethlen Téri Színház, OneTwoMany Collective, ProProgressione
The program was sponsored by Creative Europe.