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Image © Beinn Muir via Circus Geeks on Facebook

Interview with Circus Geeks

Alice Westoby

Circus Geeks were born from a collaborative blog about ‘juggling, art and how to make the perfect pizza’. We caught up with Arron Sparks, one third of the juggling trio ahead of their upcoming stint of performances of Beta Testing at the Udderbelly Festival.

London Calling: Beta Testing is about to visit the Southbank’s famous purple upside down cow, the Udderbelly! – How have you been preparing and rehearsing for the show?

Arron Sparks: We normally practice juggling 2-5 hours a day. In the run up to Udderbelly we rehearsed the show a lot. There’s an inherent fragility in juggling, things really can (and at some point do) go wrong, so practice is a must for any juggler.

LC: Circus Geeks started life a blog for sharing information and ideas between circus performers – how has the content of the blog influenced Beta Testing?

AS: Yes, Circus Geeks began life as a collaborative blog in 2011 with circus artists from across the world contributing articles and sharing videos.  This show, Beta Testing, was then born out of the blog’s most popular posts.  Many of the scenes in Beta Testing came directly from blog posts but then we’ve grown them out, added and edited. It’s been an interesting challenge to go from text to stage, focusing on the live element as much as the overarching ideas.

LC: How do you combine technology with live performance and juggling in the show?

AS: The last scene in Beta Testing uses an infrared camera and some fancy programming to create real time visuals. As juggling goes it’s a fairly complicated set up but we think the effort is worth it.

LC: How did the three of you meet?

AS: Jon, Matt and I met at a juggling convention (imagine a sports hall full of people dropping objects on the floor with much enthusiasm) when we were young teenagers.

LC: What is the most dangerous thing you’ve ever juggled?

AS: We don’t juggle anything really dangerous, we like our hands attached to our wrists.

LC: Would you say this show is more like a stand up comedy show than a traditional circus act?

AS: I think it’s somewhere in-between. We like so many different art forms that the show has had influences from all over the place. It’s part Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, part Bang Goes The Theory, part TED-talk, part Monty Python sketch-show and part circus show.  By using reality as the basis for our work, often our audiences are people who are more likely to be watch documentaries or online debates than a play.

LC: Have you or will you get a chance to catch any of the other circus acts on at the Udderbelly this year such as A Simple Space or Bromance?

AS: We try to see as many live shows as we can but fitting it all in can be tricky!

LC: I can imagine the circus world is very small, are you a tight knit group?

AS: It’s a growing world, expanding all the time. It’s a great time to be interested in the art forum. There are so many new companies making work and so many new opportunities for circus artists. It’s a very inclusive scene.

LC: Where is Beta Testing taking you next, or do you have another show up your sleeves?

AS: We have a break from Beta Testing after June as all 3 of us have our own solo shows that we will go back to. It’s going to be a busy summer!

LC: What are you tips for new jugglers feeling inspired to give it a go?

AS: Take a look online; find a good video tutorial and get dropping!

Circus Geeks: Beta Testing is on at the Udderbelly Festival until the 21st June, to find out more, click here.

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