Caro Meets Dance & Physical Interview

Annabel Carberry: Lost In Translation Tenth Anniversary Tour

By | Published on Monday 21 June 2021

Many of our readers will be familiar with the fabulous work of Norwich-based circus company Lost In Translation, not least because they might have run into the group’s productions up at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

This year Lost In Translation celebrate their tenth anniversary, so have a lot to look back on and to celebrate. They have big plans for the whole year, but first up, they have two shows at the Wandsworth Arts Fringe this month, and next month they’ll be bringing a third, family orientated show to two of London’s venues.

To find out more about what they will be staging this summer, and a bit more about what to expect from them in the future, I spoke to Annabel Carberry, company co-director and co-founder.

CM: Let’s start with some background: lots of our readers will be familiar with Lost In Translation and its work, but for anyone who isn’t, can you please tell us a bit about the company? When was it formed, who formed it, and what were its aims?
AC: LIT was formed when myself and my now husband Massi – Massimiliano Rossetti – decided we wanted to start a company together after touring with No Fit State Circus.

We went through a journey of two years initially, trying out things with different groups of people, trying to understand how it worked to run a company and how to get something off the ground. This process started in 2011 with our first work in progress showing at Circus Futures in Bristol.

By the beginning of 2013 we had an artistic team, Arts Council funding, a space to rehearse and our first proper tour. Early on we had two people who have been part of the journey throughout – our composer Peter Reynolds, who was with us since that first showing, and performer Roisin Morris, who joined us in 2013. It’s been quite a journey since then!

Our aim was always to start our own company, make our own shows and tour them, and we have certainly done that. A good many things have grown sideways and upwards from there. We always had a vision to create ensemble shows and to do that we always wanted the sense of a continuing team. To this end we worked towards creating a rep company, and achieving this has been a core tenet of what we create and how we work.

CM: So it’s been a decade now. Looking back over the last ten years, are there things that stand out as particular highlights?
AC: So many highlights, so many adventures, and so many challenges. It’s been quite some ten years. I think different members of the company over the years probably have different highlights.

One of the things that comes to mind for me is our project with Cirku Malta in 2013, involving a crazy journey down from England all the way through to Sicily by car, with the trailer breaking along the way, wonderful Sicilian gelato, a huge, mad outdoor circus theatre project with loads of community performers, needing a crane to lift our set over a big concrete wall, with two trips to hospital, wonderful people, a van without windows in the summer heat, and a big spectacular show. There we met our good friend Christopher Dingli, who has since directed two of our shows.

Other highlights include New Year’s Eve on a Roman stage, getting our first tent Marybelle, getting the keys to our own space, performing in the Windsor Castle quadrangle on a beautiful sunny day, celebrating 250 years of circus by creating a big project with lots of partners, including creating our own circus festival and beautiful life sized elephant puppets. I think some of the best highlights are the people that we have met along the way, those that have been part of our shows, amazing partners that we have worked with, people who work incredibly hard to make great things happen.

CM: So now to your imminent anniversary tour. Coming up soonest is ‘Above’, on as part of the Wandsworth Arts Fringe. Can you tell us a bit about that – its inspiration and its themes?
AC: That journey started in 2018 when Massi was talking to one of his close friends in Rome about Italo Calvino’s book ‘The Baron In The Trees’ and how it would translate really well into a circus show. They decided to work together to create a first version of what is now ‘Above’, which we showed as a work in progress in our space in 2018. We then went on to create a site-specific version which we performed in a forest at Timber Festival in 2019.

The show follows the themes of the book, about a boy who rebels against his family and decides to live his life in the trees. It follows the adventures that he has, the relationships that he experiences and the things that he sacrifices to his life’s choice. The show explores the concept of an alternative way of life, the inspiration and richness that brings, but also the difficulties that come with it.

Our presentation at Wandsworth Arts Festival is the next stage in the show’s journey, our first time trying it out in a tent, with several new performers and some new artistic elements, so it will be great to see how the audiences respond.

CM: It will be accompanied by ‘Cabaret Unlocked’ – can you tell us what we might expect from that, and who is involved?
AC: This was born from a conversation amongst the parties involved in putting the WAF big top together, mainly producer Flora Herberich and Massi, about the possibility of bringing some London Circus Artists together to celebrate being onstage live again. We teamed up with cabaret veteran Katherine Arnold who is curating the performance. Expect lots of fun, spectacle, comedy and a saucy night out, all in a spirit of celebration!

CM: In July you’ll begin staging ‘Hotel Paradiso’. Can you tell us more about that show? What kind of audiences will it appeal to?
AC: ‘Hotel Paradiso’ is our third family show, and explores the world of a quirky run down hotel, run by the eccentric Madame and her staff, who battle to save their bankrupt home from bankers and lawyers who want to shut it down. It is very silly, fun – almost a farce – with lots of great circus skills, comedy and drama, with a surprise ending. It’s aimed at a broad audience but particularly families, with different elements appealing to different ages.

CM: These shows are not all you’re doing for the tenth anniversary, are they? Can you tell us what else you’re planning?
AC: We have a busy year ahead, after our touring in London we are travelling up to Manchester with our tent to work with The Lowry on their summer event, performing ‘Above’ and ‘The Hogwallops’, as well as being part of their outreach and engagement programme.

We then return home to Norwich to perform as part of our second-year partnership with Norwich Theatre in ‘Interlude’, with a late night cabaret at the end of August. We then premiere the full theatre version of ‘Above’ at Norwich Theatre Royal in September, with a possible quick stop in Portugal, COVID permitting.

We then move on to partner with Jacksons Lane Theatre on a new production, funding pending, and also perform our wonderful new show ‘A Circus Carol’ in Jacksons Lane’s newly renovated building: very exciting! This year is definitely a London year for us, I don’t think we have ever performed so many times in London in one year!

CM: It’s great to see companies able to perform for real life audiences again. What’s it like to be ‘back’?
AC: We worked really hard last year and were very lucky in many ways. We have managed to keep performing and training and kept our team together more than almost any other company of circus artists.

This means we haven’t had the same disconnect from the industry and the experience of performing and creating that so many performing artists have had, and for this we feel very fortunate.

We have never had the experience of working so locally before, which has brought its own benefits and growth, particularly a wonderful partnership with Norwich Theatre who have been so supportive, but we are very much looking forward to being on tour again.

We have a few new artists who have only joined us since COVID, so it will be their first time being on tour with us, it’s a bit of a new beginning. We are also really excited to bring the new show in front of an audience, it’s been a big delay in getting it out there, so we are really looking forward to it.

CM: I know you were doing online circus classes during lockdown. Are you still doing that, or have plans to do it in the future?
AC: The online journey has been one of ups and downs, it’s been different every time the restrictions or the situation has changed.

We have connected to new people, worked in new ways, but it was also really hard to connect to some of our students, and some just disappeared when in-person classes weren’t possible.

However, there have been some great successes from it, and we have kept a couple of online classes running throughout, though will be taking a break over the summer, with the intention to re-start some elements of this work in September.

CM: What about the future generally? Do you have plans beyond your ten year celebration or is it too early to ask…?
AC: We know that we have an Arts Council funded tented tour next year that was supposed to happen in 2020 and has been postponed, so we are looking forward to finally being able to deliver this. This will take place in Norwich, Hull, Kings Lynn and South Kesteven. It’s a really great project with local partners in each place, lots of different circus shows and an engagement strand, particularly focusing on reaching under-engaged audiences and celebrating circus as an artform.

We are also hoping to keep touring to theatres particularly with ‘Above’ and ‘A Circus Carol’. We are really hoping that at some point it will be possible to re-launch into international touring at some point next year, but this may be further down the track.

Above’ is on from 26-27 Jun, and ‘Cabaret Unlocked’ is on 29 Jun, both as part of Wandsworth Arts Fringe. ‘Hotel Paradiso’ will be performed at Rose Theatre, Kingston, from 9-11 Jul, and at Underbelly Festival, Cavendish Square, from 17 Jul-5 Aug

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Photo: Jamie Corbin