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An interview with circus visionary Yaron Lifschitz

15 July 2018 | Suzanne Frost

Since 2004, Circa has been at the frontier of new and progressive circus, creating powerful works of art that challenge, thrill and delight. Known as the “rockstars of the circus world”, Circa join this year’s Underbelly Festival with their latest creation Peepshow, an exciting European premiere that takes inspiration from the slightly seedy and voyeuristic, beautiful yet bizarre world of cabaret. Playing with the extreme physicality and skill of this troupe of phenomenal acrobats, Circa blurs the lines between movement, dance, theatre and circus – with not a clown in sight! Director and circus visionary Yaron Lifschitz took the time to explain to us what Peepshow is all about and what makes Circa so extraordinary.

London Calling: Peepshow sounds deliberately provocative! What can audiences expect to see?
Yaron Lifschitz: Traditionally, ‘peepshows’ are where men go to look at women for sexual gratification, and while our Peepshow is sexy, it’s not that type of peepshow. It is, however, about looking and about being seen. You’ll see images of mirrors, you’ll see people trapped in shafts of light, you’ll watch as acrobats move in and out of darkness and see fresh perspectives on traditional acts. It’s cabaret turned on its head.



LC: There are a lot of circus shows this year at Underbelly and every single one of them claims to be spectacular and new. What makes Circa stand out?
YL: With Peepshow, Circa returns for a fourth season to Underbelly, and we will enjoy another run of our newest family show Wolfgang at the Underbelly Circus Hub in Edinburgh this August. All have been varied, interesting and diverse - we love performing in the UK and Peepshow is no exception.
 
LC: This year we are celebrating 250 years of circus art. How has the circus changed, what are trends or developments, and how will the future look?
YL: Circus has dramatically changed over the years in too many ways to list. If nothing else, there has been an extreme departure from the use of animals. Now we’re watching shows that have been created by and for humans. Nouveau circus has developed to include story, costume, lighting, and to discuss themes that relate to the current world around us. The possibilities of how the circus will look in the future… who can say!


 
LC: I believe Cirque de Soleil were the first to introduce or try to add something of a story line or theme to their Circus shows. Do you use a theme or motive for Peepshow? Is that important for audiences to be more engaged?
YL: While Circa productions don’t explore a ‘narrative’, Peepshow takes on the themes of looking and being looked at. Every morning, when we put on our clothes, many of us think about how we will look to other people - for some of us, this will change the clothes we wear. The way we look and act in the world is shaped and changed by knowing we’re being looked at. It’s this experience which is at the heart of Peepshow.


LC: You have also worked on the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. I am interested in your view on the intersection of sports and art or show.
YL: Circa was the Creative Lead on Festival 2018, the cultural component of the Commonwealth Games. I was proud to be the Co-Creative Director. Working with sport and arts highlighted the role of the body and the power of virtuosity – two things that feature heavily in Circa’s performances.
 
Circa’s Peepshow runs at Underbelly Festival's Spiegeltent on the Southbank until 18 August 2018.
 
 
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