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ISACS Member - Dea Birkett
ISACS Member - Dea Birkett

Inferno Fire ShowWe 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 Inferno Fire Show, a Cork-based Fire Performance Company creating new sensations for audiences mixing circus skills, theatre, fire manipulation and pyrotechnics. The company was created by a trio of highly accomplished fire performers: Guillaume Cousson, Ronan McLoughlin and Will Flanagan.


View Inferno ISACS' profile.

Picture: Inferno | Photographer Miao-yi Chien


Guillaume Cousson | View ISACS profile

Guillaume Cousson is the creator of Riuchi, which explores the use of modern technology, with light, magic techniques and movement creating a unique language. Riuchi is internationally touring with a series of performances of Asian inspiration telling his tales through dance, circus and magic.

Ronan McLoughlin | View ISACS profile

Ronan is a world-renowned fire and object manipulation artist from Ireland. Best known for his innovative style of poi spinning, Ronan has been teaching and performing all over the world for over 10 years.

Will Flanagan | View ISACS profile

PassePartout Circus Arts and Street Theatre is the trading name of Will Flanagan, which provides a range of high quality, high skill shows, walkabout characters and circus skills workshops.


inferno fire show 3web

Picture: Inferno | Photographer Petr Stary


Can you describe your work? 

Three Cork-based artists created Inferno in 2014:

  • Guillaume Cousson 
  • Ronan McLoughlin 
  • Will Flanagan 


It was created with the aim of becoming the only high-calibre, large-scale professional Fire Performance Company in Ireland by integrating unique custom made fire props and techniques.

In order to create such a challenging spectacle, three of Ireland’s foremost fire performers came together.

Having toured the world with their own solo performances, they decided to use their expertise to create a company that would represent Ireland on the international stage.


How did you first get involved in Street Arts, Circus and Spectacle?

Our first taste of Street Arts as practitioners was with the fire arts and spinning communities at juggling conventions. At the time it was a really new art form where everything from techniques to props was just emerging. It was like a blank canvas waiting to be coloured. We crossed different art forms such as dance, movement and theatre to go deeper into our practice, but also in order to create new possibilities when using fire as a medium. They enabled us to broaden the scope of our different techniques.


What is your earliest memory of experiencing Street Arts, Circus or Spectacle? 

Very early on we were familiar with circus through festivals and touring circus shows. Once we became immersed in this world as practitioners we began to realise how much work and artistry was involved in creating performances, from the vision to the production to performing in front of a live audience.


inferno fire show 4web

 Picture: Inferno | Photographer JM Schneider


Can you identify a pivotal moment that transformed your work significantly?

At the beginning of this project, it was very difficult to find fire performers who shared a common vision and had the necessary technical skill set. Our first 2 years were very unbalanced and not efficient, having to replace fire performers on a few occasions. We needed stability but also the freedom to be able to create good work by having a good team.

Our work took a significant upturn when Ronan joined the group as one of the artists. The company was able to push an artistic vision and challenge itself to create a different type of fire show. Our skill set and background were on a level in many areas and it became much easier to think of what Inferno could become. We wanted to explore what would be challenging for ourselves and creates something that people would not expect from us.   


What other activities, creative or otherwise do you do that contribute to your work?

Fire performance as we imagine it, where the performers combine customised props with movement and theatre, is still developing. By exploring and integrating a variety of arts we naturally create new techniques. This is what we have strived to do since we started. We have really focused our time into quality. Quality of technique, performance and presentation. We are now researching more and more into creating safer eco-friendly fire performances, such as sourcing the highest quality fuel, pyrotechnics effects and finding a balance that is better for both the performer and the audience.


What was your first experience like of presenting work to an audience? 

Our first show was in Cork with a very friendly crowd followed by a successful Irish tour that gave us the confidence that our project was worth developing. It also showed us that lots of work still needed to be done before we would be ready to present Inferno to an international audience. We needed to work on lots of aspects, especially from a logistic point of view, where a show could be difficult to transport, etc. So since then, we have been playing with different formats.    


What advice would you give to someone wanting to show work publicly for the first time? 

Take your time and present something that you are very happy with. As artists, we have to value the effort and time that audiences give to us so don't underestimate their intellect and don’t do things halfway. It never pays off in the long term.


inferno fire show 1web

 Picture: Inferno | Photographer Petr Stary


Are you working towards any new projects at the moment?

We are working on a new show that we presented in Taiwan this summer, and will be moving on to another project next year while improving the current one. We try to play with the idea of a different concept for each show in order not to get bored, but also to research and develop new techniques for ourselves.


How do you feel about the street arts, circus and spectacle sector in Ireland right now? 

It’s a very exciting time where a lot of companies are creating interesting work and performing on an international stage. A lot of companies have emerged with very different set skills and interesting approaches to performance.


What do you think is necessary for the art forms of street arts, circus and spectacle to develop and grow in Ireland? 

That circus should be recognised as an art form and that the Arts Council properly appreciate the benefit of it. The idea of contemporary circus in Ireland is still in development with many festivals still looking at it as purely entertainment, they have to look at it as art.  


What role/impact has the ISACS network had on your work to date? 

A great impact developing and creating opportunities for artists but also creating vital resources for the industry.


inferno fire show 2web

 Picture: Inferno | Photographer Petr Stary


What is the best comment you have ever received for your work? 

'You are so cool.'


Finally, do you have any favourite tips or advice for emerging artists?

Work hard.


View Inferno ISACS' profile.


Interested in getting involved in the sector? Join the Irish Street Arts, Circus and Spectacle Network today!

Irish Street Arts Circus and Spectacle Network

Irish Theatre Institute, 17 Eustace St, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, Ireland
00 353 (0)87 0541812 info@isacs.ie
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