Brighton and Hove Youth Circus Company - Rolling on the Floor Laughing - Brighton Fringe 2012

RoLF Aerial SilkThe Circus Project is a Brighton-based charity specialising in aerial circus. Their Brighton and Hove Youth Circus Company recently performed their show Rolling on the Floor Laughing at Brighton’s Fringe. The show was a huge hit, selling out the venue and receiving many five-star reviews. It even won an award for best children’s show.

The Youth Circus features talented teenage aerialists and dancers that have trained at The Circus Project’s facility. Rolling on the Floor Laughing combined high quality aerial acrobatics with multi-media technology to tell real-life stories of young people growing up in the digital age.

The show was a great example of how modern day circus has moved from the big top and onto theatre stages. Such shows give more of an emphasis on narrative than traditional circus while still containing highly-skilled circus disciplines.

The stage for Rolling on the Floor Laughing featured a large transparent sheet that acted as a projection screen for digital displays of artist Malcolm Buchanan-Dick. Behind the screen the performers used various aerial skills such as trapeze, silks, harnesses and ropes to express the emotions of the stories that the digital projections and sound bites described.

RoLF Aerial Rope

The opening of the show was a fun piece modelled on a Wii game with trapeze artists Verity Parkin, Leah Brown, Bessie Garton and Emily Hobden playing the roles of the computer game characters. Not all the acts in the show were so light-hearted though. Many featured difficult and emotional stories of teenage life such as the sad tale of love and the text messages between the two parties expressed by a rope performance from Maisy Taylor and Robbie Pope. The beautiful imagery of the performance was also full of professional-level skill with the talented Maisy having just been accepted onto the degree programme at Circus Space, the UK’s premier circus school.

Even the equipment changes in between the acts featured well-choreographed dances and amusing interludes that linked the individual pieces and helped to gel the show into a whole.

Other acts in the show include a Manga-style harness performance from Lucy Senior and Ruby Burgess and a double trapeze piece about Facebook and its role in the life of teenagers performed by Charli Cheetham and Nancy Tulley. A dream about dolls coming to life was represented by the trapeze work of Lotte O’Neil and Francesca Elridge as the animated dolls. The finale featured Kaya Leonard, Cassie Fairhead and Amalie O’Neill on aerial silks in another dream inspired piece, this time about flying.

All the acrobatics were accompanied by graphic and audio effects that combined with the performances to tell genuinely moving stories. Although choreographed by Emma Taylor, The Circus Project’s co-founder, the young performers certainly provided the material for the acts and had significant input into not only routines, but the artistic expression inherent in the other elements of the show as well.

The Circus Project and their Youth Circus Company are helping to secure the future of the circus arts, not just by training some of the stars of the future but creating shows of the type and calibre that is dragging circus from its rather clichéd, and sometimes ridiculed, past into the 21st century as a respected and valuable performance art.

Unfortunately, Rolling on the Floor Laughing was a one-off show for the 2012 Brighton Fringe that is now over. However, you should keep your eyes on The Circus Project and go and see their future productions. You can do so by signing up to their newsletter.

All photos taken by and copyright of David Myers.

RoLF Finale

Links to reviews of Rolling on the Floor Laughing:

“If I had a sixth star, I’d give it to them – I can’t wait to see where their imagination takes them next year”

(Richard Stamp, Fringe Guru)

"Out of the ordinary, exciting and probably something few people ever see live"

(Jenni Dixon, Public Reviews)

"Expertly choreographed and performed...bright young things who I predict will soon be showing off their talent in all the big circus venues"

(Sophie Fenella Robins, Whats on the Fringe)

"Impressive aerial circus skills from young professionals, The Circus Project showcases a broad range of talent and explores some interesting themes along the way."

(Penny Cooper, The Fringe Review)