Caro Meets Dance & Physical Interview

Adrian Berry: Luminosa

By | Published on Friday 17 September 2021

North London venue Jacksons Lane is reopening this week with ‘Luminosa’, a collaboration with critically acclaimed circus group Lost In Translation.

The venue has – of course – been through lockdown, but also a big renovation over the last eighteen months, so it will be exciting for regular audiences to get back into the building.

To find out more about ‘Luminosa’ – which tours the UK throughout the next two months – I spoke to Adrian Berry, Jacksons Lane’s Artistic Director, and co-director of the show.

CM: Tell us about ‘Luminosa’ – from what I can gather, it’s what would be described as a circus cabaret…? Can you explain the format of the show for us?
AB: It’s a celebration of circus, light and positivity, a 21st Century cabaret that aims to redefine the genre. No compère, no introductions, but a beautiful, positive narrative that interlinks pretty much every circus discipline going, in the air and on the ground.

Up to ten artists each day and night, with brand new music performed live by the acclaimed composer Peter Reynolds, formerly of NoFit State Circus. Oh, and I directed it with Massimiliano Rossetti. Very proud!

CM: Why did you decide to create this kind of show?
AB: Really to get audiences back into theatre spaces, no mention of the pandemic, nothing other than beautiful, exhilarating escapism. I think it’s what we need right now, and the cabaret format enables us to bring different artists in and out. We are taking it all around the country too.

CM: What kinds of acts can we expect to see performing as part of the show?
AB: Flying pole by Zaki in his eight-inch heels, the gravity-defying Korean cradle, foot juggling, trapeze, aerial hoop… pretty much the kitchen sink. And Joana Dias is one of the UK’s best and brightest aerialists, well actually she is from Portugal originally. World class circus throughout!

CM: Do the different performers interact? And how did you choose what would feature in the show?
AB: Yes, they interact throughout, group acro, ensemble trapeze, some solos too. We chose the artists based on skill, ability, charisma and diversity.

CM: Directing or overseeing a show like this must be very different from, say, directing theatre. Can you explain a bit about what directing a show like this entails?
AB: It’s only my second time directing with another. Massi takes care of the circus elements, I take care of the narrative. It’s all non-verbal too, so I am looking at gesture, communication, how the performers interact with the audience. It works well, plus we have a great choreographer in Michelle Man.

CM: Can you tell us about the outreach programmes you’ll be operating whilst touring the show?
AB: It varies depending on each venue, at Jacksons Lane we are working with a school, a college and an elders’ group, whilst in Sheffield it is with a youth circus. Some participants have no experience at all, so it could be beginners juggling, or for a youth group that know circus, possibly an aerial workshop. It’s all free, and we hope to link to the show with subsidised tickets where the venue allows.

CM: It’s been a while now, since the lockdown ended and companies were able to perform in person: how has it felt to be back in action?
AB: As I write your answers, I am sitting in the theatre for only the third day. Lights are back up, the stage is lit, music flows through the air. It’s wonderful, surreal, other-worldly and a long time coming. I am probably the happiest I have been since March 2020.

CM: How difficult was the lockdown for Jacksons Lane? How did the venue come through it?
AB: We were always going to close for a £5 million refurbishment, so we just brought it all forward, quite timely. We created new circus films, made a seven-minute circus video on our construction site with fifteen artists, created a Christmas experience for 250 elders in north London with hampers, live circus and gifts…. we didn’t stop. This is our building reopening as well as our first post-COVID show.

CM: What plans does the venue have for the coming months and years?
AB: More circus, more touring, increased outreach and creative learning, more producing, free new events in our new foyer bar, expanding our team, attracting bigger audiences, more diversity on our stage, more international collaborations, including a Nordic circus festival and the London International Mime Festival. That’s enough for now we think!

CM: What’s up next, after ‘Luminosa’?
AB: A whole Autumn season, including Circolombia, an exciting family programme, ‘A Circus Carol’ – our Christmas show – and much more. Head to our website and get booking tickets!

‘Luminosa’ is on at Jacksons Lane from 21-29 Sep, see this page here for information and to book. The show continues to tour throughout the autumn, calling at the Pavilion Theatre in Worthing, Circus City in Bristol, Lighthouse in Poole, Oxford Playhouse, The Lowry in Salford, Derby Theatre, The Drama Studio at The University of Sheffield, and Barnsley Civic. Find a full list of tour dates here.

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Photo: Luke MacGregor