What is a Cirque Plume show ?
WHAT IS A CIRQUE PLUME SHOW ?
A circus show is a live show.
A Cirque Plume show is made by the living for the living;
It’s joyful, colourful, profound, poetic, messy, rough and ready, and precise. It’s like life.
It is nourished by the exchange that takes place between ... a lively bunch of people on the stage, launching into the air on ropes, doing somersaults on bikes, blowing on light beams, inventive in music, balancing on feathers ... and another bunch sitting in the audience, lively people too, launched on the wings of their hearts, breathtakingly together, inventing images, balancing on a frail poem which has sprung forth from time immemorial ever since primates endowed with articulated thumbs got together in a circle to sing, play, dance, and tell stories, showing their amazement at the gift of life while attempting to gain just a glimmering of insight into this mystery.
Our speciality is frailty, exchange, and this age-old yearning, this nostalgia for the ideal as Andrei Tarkovski put it.
The Circus is poetry in action. A poem to be shared.
The black box
"Why is there no ring?" We’ve been asked the same question so many times regarding the way we stage our show. It always comes as a surprise to see a circus under a big top using a theatrical performance space (just like in the music-hall): the black box.
The ring is in fact a circular space 13m in diameter, born out of the technical necessity for the distance required between a horse and the man who makes it perform. The audience sits round the ring. This is the most effective arrangement in order to achieve the maximum number of spectators sitting in a given space. It’s also the most ergonomic.
The frontal area in a big top is a waste of space. The black box is an extravagant artistic solution, but it works.
For me the words ‘black box’ conjure up a picture of a box whose lid is covered with a red-edged cloth, inside which there is a captured spider that one spies on from to time with a shiver of pleasure and fear.
In the theatre, circus, music hall and opera, contrary to its name the black box is in fact a box that is full of light, which sheds light.
The ‘black’ referred to in the black box is the darkness that is hiding something. The black of the stage curtain, with black being there to make us forget about darkness.
The black of absence is vital for presence, just as the air we breathe without thinking about it is vital for life.
The black box can be white, red, amber, crimson, turquoise or deep sea blue, purplish violet, whatever colour is created by light.
A box of light, a box that displays, a magic box, box of illusions, a box of delights, of happiness, pleasure, full of life for the audience and circus performers.
There are so many different ‘boxes’ and yet, just as they aren’t really black, neither are they really boxes. There’s no sense of enclosure.
The box, like the colour black, is merely a technicality used to help the spectator forget about it.
The space becomes infinite, miniscule or immense, it isn’t restricted to the confines of a box, a pair of curtains, but the limitless expanse of the imaginary world created on stage.
We have chosen this space for the possibilities it presents of creating an illusion, allowing the performers to look out at each member of the audience, for the flow of entrances and exits. For the ability to recreate a garden and a courtyard. For the lighting possibilities, grey areas around bodies for spectators who see them all from the same angle. Or almost.
We chose this performance space because we work with shadows and shadows are best observed against a backdrop or a silk screen.
We chose this performance space because it means we can have music that follows the movement on stage. This type of space means we can work with audio foldback, which in a circular space would be almost impossible.
Another reason we chose it is for the illusory effects we can create in the music hall tradition.