For 40 years, Jacksons Lane has been a flagship arts venue in North London, and it is also the UK’s leading supporter of contemporary circus. Spring 2017 is the busiest season in the venue’s history with over 150 days of performance. In this interview, Artistic Director Adrian Berry talks to us about what’s on offer for families and young people…
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role?
I’m Artistic Director of Jacksons Lane in London, a very busy arts centre that programmes and produces theatre and circus as well as a lot of participatory work for people of all ages. I personally trained as an actor and then decided to move into other areas of theatre and performance. I also write and direct my own work. I’ve lived in London for over twenty years now and still get excited running a venue in the capital.
Spring 2017 is the busiest season in Jacksons Lane’s history – what can audiences expect over the next few months, and what are you particularly looking forward to?
A really thrilling and diverse season of work, international circus, dance for families, we even had a circus show for babies! The season is vibrant, colourful with – literally – something for everyone. I am personally looking forward to the Finnish company Race Horse with Around – the Finns are producing some of the most accessible and exciting circus around and this is the London premiere.
Why is this Spring season particularly packed? What is your process for programming a season?
It’s book-ended by 5 weeks of the London International Mime Festival in January and February, which occupies a lot of the season. April is usually our busiest part of the season for circus taking up most of the month, so already that’s half the period, then we have some really great visual theatre work packed into the intervening months. Finally, we wanted to include more circus work for families.
Jacksons Lane is one of the leading supporters of contemporary circus. How does contemporary circus differ from traditional circus?
The biggest difference is that it takes place in theatres as opposed to tents or big tops, and it often has a narrative rather than just spectacle. But much of it has similarities in that similar disciplines are used: trapeze, hoop, acrobatics. It often has more of an ‘edge’ to it while still retaining that all-important ‘wow’ factor.
How did you get involved in circus theatre, and what is it about circus theatre that you enjoy and find important?
In the ’90s I worked at The Albany in South-East London, and what was known as ‘new circus’ had just started – kind of like punk circus, really. A company called Mamaloucos were performing at the venue, and I became instantly hooked. It was exciting work and I loved the whole feel and atmosphere.
What does the season offer for children, young people and families?
Clowning, theatre, dance, circus, mime, comedy, more circus, interaction, participation – literally everything!
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