We have invited our members to tell us a little more about themselves, their backgrounds, inspirations and thoughts on the exciting art forms of Street Arts, Circus and Spectacle in Ireland (and further afield)!
Introducing Tumble Circus, a modern circus company, based in Belfast. Tumble Circus team has won international multiple awards for their work. They have toured throughout Ireland, the UK, Europe, Canada and Australia. Tumble Circus provides a unique experience of innovative and contemporary Irish circus, specialising in high skill circus – theatre – comedy (indoors and outdoors). At the core of Tumble Circus is a dedication to training, learning and constantly pushing the boundaries of their own work. It is their desire and life’s work to create new and exciting circus that entertains, amazes and is accessible to all and where ordinary people do extraordinary things.
We've interviewed the two people (among others!) at the heart of Tumble Circus: Ken Fanning aka Ken Evil and Tina Segner aka Tina Machina on their Circus aspirations and views on the sector. Read on to discover their thoughts and their 'tumbling' extraordinary personalities!
Irish contemporary circus at it's finest – 'funny, flexible and refreshingly honest.'
Buy tickets for their next show: Winter Circus 2017 (8-27th December - Belfast).
Watch Tumble Circus Winter Circus 2017 promo video:
Can you describe your work?
Tina said: My work is sitting in front of the computer organising logistics, finances and touring for Tumble Circus. Playtime is when I get to train, rehearse and perform the shows to audiences around Ireland, Europe and the world. Our shows are non-traditional circus mixed with comedy and often underlying social commentary.
Ken said: I provide circus devilment to the masses. I also make movie’s and I am a dad. None of these things I would call work.
How did you first get involved in Street Arts, Circus or Spectacle?
Tina said: Kind of by mistake…. I was meant to travel to Australia, taking time out of University, but it was too expensive, so my friend and I hitchhiked to Ireland and got stranded in Dublin and joined a street theatre company, Down to Earth. I was only meant to stay away for 3 months and that was 22 years ago now. It was way more fun doing tricks on a trapeze than studying maths at uni….
Ken said: Someone taught me to juggle in a squat in Holland. A few days later I did my first show at a ferry terminal in the north of France to make money for the fare.
What is your earliest memory of experiencing Street Arts, Circus or Spectacle?
Tina said: In Lund, my hometown in Sweden, there is a Karnival organized by the students at the Lund University and the parade was always great, made with very low budgets, but political and funny. My parents took my sister and me to watch it for as long as I can remember.
Ken said: When busking on Grafton street in Dublin, I began to understand that making a fool of yourself brought real joy and happiness to people.
Picture: Julie Ann Rouquette
Can you identify a pivotal moment that transformed your work significantly?
Tina said: When we made This is what we do for a living, it was the first show that we made for indoor spaces. And after making this one, we wanted to make shows that wasn’t just light funny entertainment, but shows that meant something. To take the audience with us on a journey.
Ken said: I saw a company called Acrobat. I met a girl called Tina from Sweden. I went to circus school.
What other activities, creative or otherwise do you do that contribute to your work?
Tina said: At the moment I am getting all my clowning material from my 3-year-old son, Kasper. And apart from that, the only other thing I do is running….
Ken said: I think of myself as a creative being. I love making stuff. I write a lot of nonsense, I make music that can be loosely described as noise. I have made feature-length movies. I love clowns, and clowning, and being on the streets affecting people. All of these things feed into my circus work but resourcefulness is at the centre of my creative process and what some people have called a fearless belief in aiming toward epicness. If it’s not epic, it’s not worth doing.
What was your first experience like of presenting work to an audience?
Tina said: I think it was somewhere in Ireland doing some kind of a dodgy circus show and being amazed that people actually stopped and watched it and saying how much they liked it. I felt I had no idea what I was doing and after that I decided to go to circus school and that’s how I ended up in Circomedia, England.
Ken said: At the Ferry port in the North of France. I remember finding it hard to engage with the people. And then a rather wasted looking young fella in a shiny tracksuit became transfixed by my basic juggling. He dropped me enough cash to get on the ferry.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to show work publicly for the first time?
Tina said: Make it short, but good…. If it’s in a safe environment you can leave some gaps for improvisation.
Ken said: Don't be afraid to fail. And like Beckett said “Fail and then fail better.” Just remember Beckett was from a posh family and went to a private school and moved to France and lived off the state and had loads of money, so what did he know about failure, he was never really going to fail.
Are you working towards any new projects at the moment?
Tina said: Yeah probably, but I can’t really remember as we have so many big things going on at the moment, they all blur into one…. We are doing a self produced Winter Circus show in our Big Top in Belfast 7-27 Dec, then heading over the Australia for 3 months and then preparing for a month in Avignon in June 2018.
Ken said: We are making a 3 person show at the moment. We don't really work towards projects, projects come towards us. We make shows when and how we need to. When we try to manufacture shows it doesn’t seem to work so well. But when we just react to who and what is around at the time we make better more sustainable work.
How do you feel about the street arts, circus and spectacle sector in Ireland right now?
Tina said: It feels like there are lots of good communication and meetings going on, the network is growing, but it doesn’t necessarily feel like the market around Ireland for street arts, circus and spectacle is growing and developing at the same rate.
Ken said: I feel generally hopeful. There is a wonderful community around Ireland who are genuinely supportive of each other.
What do you think is necessary for the art forms of street arts, circus and spectacle to develop and grow in Ireland?
Tina said: Some nicer weather and better public squares…. Apart from that, I think festivals, councils etc needs to actively programme live shows, making sure they are performed in good locations.
Ken said: More producers and theatre folks to get behind what we are doing and to see the real potential for creating audience connections with culture by using circus and street theatre. We could be seen as a gateway drug to the arts.
What role/impact has the ISACS network had on your work to date?
Tina said: It’s been great to see ISACS grow so much and connecting people and creating opportunities. It feels like we have a spokesperson and that we are being taken seriously.
Ken said: I want to celebrate the great work Lucy has done. ISACS has opened up many opportunities to new and emerging Irish talent and has shone a spotlight on all of our work, for which we should all be thankful. A French artist once explained to me that one of the reasons circus and street theatre in France is so well supported, was because the artists got organised and lobbied hard for financial support from the government together and I believe that ISACS can be that lobby group for our community.
What is the best comment you have ever received for your work?
Tina said: ‘It’s threadbare Cirque de Soleil with heart and without oily slickness, and all the better for it’ ABC
‘This is a jubilant celebration that takes inspiration from the anarchy of punk, controlled skill of circus and tenderness of friendship’. The Stage
Ken said: “Anti Theatre” when I got that review I felt my work had been done.
Finally, do you have any favourite tips or advice for emerging artists?
Tina said: Go to circus school, find a cheap and good place to train with creative people around you. Work with people you can tour with, they might not be the best, but touring can be very demanding.
Ken said: Cheat, lie, steal, borrow, turn up on time and learn how to pack a van quickly.
Discover Tumble Circus latest show in Writers Square, Belfast from the 8th-27th! Buy tickets for Tumble Circus Winter Circus.