Stratford Circus is the younger, sleeker looking neighbour to the Theatre Royal Stratford East. Living in the shadow of a theatrical giant is no easy task, but I’m pleased to report the Circus occupies its own niche, with a wide range of community-based productions. Flight Paths draws inspiration from the Goze; blind female storytellers and musicians who travelled the length and breadth of medieval Japan, making a living from performing epic tales.
Two blind performers, Amelia Cavallo and Sarah Houbolt, take the stage and share stories of artists from Japan, Nigeria, USA and Australia, as they build careers as aerialists, viola players and soprano singers. The performers on stage describe the discipline required to succeed as aerial artists, while on screen Victoria Oruwari and Takashi Kikuchi explain how they have overcome their disability and emerged as artists on their own terms.
Co-producers Extant, the theatre company for visually impaired people and Yellow Earth, a leading British East Asian theatre company, have joined forces productively, to produce a highly original piece of theatre. They provide a showcase for blind performers and largely unknown elements of Japanese cultural history. Elements of movement, music and creative audio description are delivered through new sound technology, for a unique multimedia experience. It was pleasing that both producer and venue were fully committed to an inclusive experience; for example there was ample space for wheelchair users, and Braille copies of the programme were also available. Touch tours prior to the performance are also available, to further enhance users’ experience.
,I was deeply impressed by the performers’ aerial skills on silk ropes. Mastering such a complex skill at heights of twenty feet, without harness must be challenging for sighted performers let alone those with visual impairment. Whilst the Samurai style wisdom was on occasion heavy going, I couldn’t fail to be moved by people with talent overcoming what is a significant disability. An important reminder, if it were ever needed, that anything can be achieved in life, if we let the idea grow.
Writer: Glen Neath
Co-Directors: Maria Oshodi and Kumiko Medl
Producers: Extant and Yellow Earth
Box Office: 020 8279 1080
Booking Link: https://stratford-circus.com/event/flight-paths/#data-sc-tabs-alt-index%3D%220%22=tickets
Booking until: 9 February 2019