After a long 18 months, artistic director for the company Extraordinary Bodies and Swanage resident, Claire Hodgson says it’s incredible to be putting on a stage show in front of an audience again.
And it’s not any show from the Swanage-based theatre company, but an amazing production of circus acrobatics, dance, film and music that was created from real life stories that the actors told each other during lockdown.
The circus-styled production called Human is at Poole’s Lighthouse arts centre on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th September 2021. It’s part of a tour that started in Southampton and will include dates in Plymouth, London and Salford.
Claire Hodgson said:
“It’s amazing – it’s sort of like medicine. We’re finally back doing what we are trained to do and what brings us joy.”
Like medicine – back performing on stage
Antodote to anxiety
The show – a collaboration between Cirque Bijou and Diverse City – combines the visual spectacle of aerial circus, dance, film and a musical soundtrack.
It’s intended to be an antidote to the anxiety that so many people, including performers, have felt during the Covid crisis. It features both disabled and non-disabled performers.
Performers are disabled and non-disabled
“Disabled people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
“This is a celebration of returning to live performance and creating theatres that are safe environments for audiences and performers.”
Claire Hodgson is the co-director of the production
Claire herself went from acting in a major production in Bristol and London, to being stuck at home during lockdown and going for walks on the beach with her dog.
“I was really grateful that I was here in Swanage. This has been a really difficult period for creative performers.”
Grateful to be living in Swanage
Shared memories during lockdown
The four artists on stage include a disabled performer. Also appearing via video link from his home in South London, is disabled songwriter John Kelly, whose lockdown journey is followed throughout the show.
The production evolved out of stories told in audio and video messages, and shared by company members during lockdown.
The team were inspired by recollections of childhood memories, their mums, falling in love, life-changing moments and a love of sweets!
One of the performers appears via videolink
“Gets to the heart”
The music is an original score by Ted Barnes incorporating live drumming and singing from on-stage performers with audio and music played through headphones, creating an intimate relationship between performer and audience.
One of the artists, Jonny Leitch, said:
“We explore storytelling in new ways through movement. Human gets to the heart of how we are all feeling right now and I can’t wait to share it with everyone.”
The performance combines circus acrobatics, dance, film and music
“Had to live in uncertainty.”
Six people who work for the theatre company live in Dorset, with four of them in Swanage. They were able to work together during lockdown using Zoom.
Claire explained the linking theme of the piece:
“It’s about how we live in uncertainty and in the last 18 months we have all had to live in uncertainty which is frightening but it’s also where we take chances and fall in love or have children, so it can be a place of excitement as well.”
Performers love to share the experience with a live audience
“It’s incredible to be back”
The performance on Friday 17th September 2021 has socially distanced seating for the audience and the company encourages mask wearing for the audience members.
“This period has been difficult because we create live performance and it’s about experiencing that at the same time with an audience, so it’s incredible to be back doing it at the Lighthouse.”
Tickets for the performances at 7.30 pm on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th September 2021 can be bought from the Lighthouse website