Caro Meets Dance & Physical Interview

Barely Methodical Troupe: Bromance

By | Published on Thursday 25 June 2015

We first heard about Barely Methodical Troupe and their debut production ‘Bromance’ when they performed it to high acclaim at last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. They are taking the show back up to the Scottish capital this year, but before they do that, they are doing a run at London’s South Bank Centre, as part of the Udderbelly Festival.


I’ve been interested in finding out more this group ever since we first came across them, so, when the opportunity arose, I sent some questions over to the trio, to find out more about this show, their techniques, and the company.

CM: Can you tell us what to expect from the show? What kind of circus techniques do you employ for it?
BMT: ‘Bromance’ looks at the role and limits of male companionship in modern day society using exciting acrobatics and silly humour. We explore the all too familiar “three’s a crowd” situation with masculinity and bravado, juxtaposing the surprising sensitivity which hides in all jocks.

The company specializes in hand-to-hand and cyr wheel.

CM: For newcomers to circus, can you explain what those techniques entail…?
BMT: Hand-to-hand simply comprises of a base (big guy) lifting, balancing and throwing the flyer (small guy). As simple as it sounds, it is pretty breathtaking to watch, and demonstrates the very essence of trust. Cyr wheel is a human sized metal wheel used similar to how Leonardo’sVitruvian Man is seen (creating a very visual kinesphere). The performer stands within it, spinning and twisting in every angle until the audience are too dizzy just watching it!

CM: What’s the show about? Is there a narrative to it?
BMT: There is certainly a narrative you can follow. Circus has a beautiful way, like dance, of taking you on a thematic journey through movement. ‘Bromance’ is based on the different characters we represent and so the relationships that form are very important to the piece. Who are you in your friendship group? Which role do you fulfill? Are you the joker? The one that’s always there for the rest? Or the slightly pathetic one?

CM: What made you choose the theme of bromance?
BMT: When we were thinking of creating a show we struggled to find what we wanted to “talk about” so we just broke down our company and analysed the dynamics. After all, we are three guys who have a very interesting and specific friendship, where every day we save each others lives by catching each other. We have a level of physical comfort with each other that’s rarely seen in guys. We thought this could be interesting and potent to explore. Also, it lends itself nicely to some amusing and embarrassing situations that are fun to play on-stage.

CM: Where do you start with putting together a show like this? What’s the creative process?
BMT: We were a mess when we started; three guys who had just graduated circus school trying to put a coherent piece of physical theatre together. It was a case of finding all these specific ideas or scenarios we thought were interesting to develop, and then just locking ourselves in a room, playing some funky music and laughing a lot whilst we try to materialize them into something show-worthy.

Half way through the process we realised we needed a director, so we bought in Eddie Kaye from DV8 to assist and be that outside eye we yearned for. He was great. Due to his dance and theatrical background he had an interesting outlook on our circus tricks, and managed to add lovely details that would have been otherwise overlooked. He matured the show and gave it that structure we needed. We maintain that he is one of the funniest people we will ever meet- this helps in the rehearsal room too!

CM: This kind of work can be physically risky, can’t it? Does that bother you at all? Or does it add to the exhilaration?
BMT: That’s why we do it, I guess. We’ve trained very hard so that we can “safely” perform all these tricks; showing something else is possible. Audiences certainly appreciate the craziness and when we hear a gasp in the audience we know we’ve done it right. It is dangerous, and there are injuries and mistakes that happen, but circus is a form that people thought had died out, it seems, so we need to take risks and get creative to show audiences that circus is making a big comeback!

CM: What attracted the three of you to the world of circus? Did you always want to do this kind of performance?
BMT: We all have beautifully arty and supportive families so had been brought up witnessing a vast range of performance. Louis was always into his music and parkour. Beren was a tricker (the combination of martial arts and gymnastics) and studied stage combat for a year. Charlie was always into theatre and was a breakdancer too. We were attracted to circus because of the utilisation of our physical skills and the development of the unique performer you rarely find in other art forms.

CM: How would you sell circus to people who think it’s all just clowns and elephants?
BMT: We’d say you’d be disappointed because none of us are as exotic and cool as an elephant! Jokes aside, it is really great to be riding the wave of new circus in the UK. There are a lot of young companies creating work that develops people’s perception of this art form. We like to think it is about using the extreme length of what our bodies can do, constantly finding new ways to impress/disgust/amaze people and then weaving in the structure of contemporary dance with some sprinkling of theatricality!

CM: Can you tell us about Barely Methodical Troupe? How did you all meet and what made you decide to set up a company? Do you have any special aims as a company?
BMT: We all met on the Degree programme at the National Centre for Circus Arts (then called Circus Space) and instantly clicked as friends. It wasn’t until our final year where we had the opportunity to create a Business Plan for the last module of our degree that our ambition of making work together actually manifested.

We love bringing cheeky charm to the stage and regardless of performance are always challenging each other and the vocabulary, trying to think up a new trick or put a spin on a pre-existing one. This passion and obsession has been key to the core of the company.

The UK circus scene is going through a period where it’s working out its style in relation to the rest of the world. What does British circus now look like? We hope we can offer something to answer that question and be a part of that exported art.

CM: What’s next for the company? Do you have any new shows in development?
BMT: Yes we are in the very early stages of the creation of our tricky ‘second album’! We are lucky enough to have a great team behind us that have put what’s needed in place for us to expand as a company and add some new cast members and discipline into the BMT mix. We are ready for the challenge!

‘Bromance’ is on as part of the Udderbelly Festival at the Southbank Centre, until 19 July. More info and tickets here.

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