This year, the tenth annual contemporary circus festival "New Circus Weekend'15", has started way earlier than before. On the 1st of September, within a week until the beginning of the main program, the Arts Printing House began its educational program of contemporary circus. Variouscircus disciplines and theoretical workshops are presented by 11 lecturers from different 9 countries.
Today, abour contemporary circus, circus culture in Lithuania and abroad we are talking to one of the lecturers Roberto Magro (Spain), who is a well–known circus artist, director and playwrighter.
First of all, could you tell us why you have decided to come to Lithuania?
I met Gintarė Masteikaitė (coordinator of the festival New Circus Weekend) at the largest and most popular circus festival in France. She initially fascinated me with her sincerity, we also found a lot of things in common. After a while, we met again in Helsinki, where I suggested an idea to organise intensive contemporary circus educational program, during the festival in Vilnius. She liked the idea, so I invited two more coleagues from Brussels to come work with us. I asked Gintarė to include various type of workshops into the festival, and I think it is going incredibly well so far. There are lots of people participating in this educational program, who seem to be satisfied with it, and my only wish is for it to last longer.
As you mentioned before, you have a lot of various activities in your life...
My journey to where I am now has been quite an easy and consistent one. First of all, I started learning the arts of puppets and comedy, I always wanted to become a clown. As I realised how important the physical condition is in this kind of circus, I started my studies at the National Circus School in Paris (École Nationale du Cirque), where I acquired finesse in the way of becoming a clown. While I was studying there, I decided to create my performances with different objects. I have also always wished to be a part of something bigger than myself, so I worked in one of the major circus companies in France (Les Oiseaux Fous). During that time, I worked with all kinds of people, the most talented ones. It is thanks to them that I have come across the acting with objects. In our first performance, we acted with the masks on, which was directly connected to commedia dell‘arte, the acting of a clown, contemporary circus, etc. This work had also been an excellent experience and a wonderful period of time in my life, as I had learnt working and living, being in a team and just being together with 25 people in one tent. After 3 years of this great experience, I decided to start an "art house", and so me and my colleagues created our own company and became directors of our own performances. We invited artists from two different spheres - dancing and circus, to come together. And I think, this is exactly where movement directly connects with our feelings and a certain object. We have also done a lot of reasearch on this, and thanks to that, we have found and summarised the technique. I've started implementing this method in different schools of circus. A while later, I have seen myself become not only a director, but also a playwrighter in various contemporary circus plays. Lastly, after I became an owner of the arts house, I can directly help other artists in various ways.
You have mentioned "circus" and "contemporary circus". What are the differences between them?
A lot of journalists keep asking me this exact question. It only shows that lots of people have very little knowledge and experience in the world of circus. Traditional circus is when acrobats, jugglers, do the same thing every time. It is a show that lasts from 3 to 8 minutes and every third number is the clown's appearance. Once you have seen one show of traditional circus, you can basically tell how the rest of them are going to be. Contemporary circus is completely another deal. It does not seek to entertain, it seeks to convey feelings and ideas. Every performance has to be unique in its rendition, music, movement. Our bodies in a performance are instruments in conveying feelings, creating new vocabularies for the sake of communicating with the audience. In order to create a performance, you cannot merely know certain movements or juggle for 5 minutes. In contemporary circus, jugglers must make a 5 minute show into an hour long performance. Artists in contemporary circus are taught in various disciplines – theatre, dancing, music and so on. Acting here means making various objects, such as juggling balls, become something more and impart a deeper meaning to it.
From my own experience, I can say that I have had 10 contemporary art performances so far. Each and every one of them has been completely different from one another. That said, if those had all been 10 traditional circus performances, I would have only needed to learn one composition.
Considering the fact that you teach in different places in the world, could you tell us how different Lithuanian students are from those from the other countries?
Of course, there are a lot of beautiful women in Lithuania. I am just kidding, but on a serious note, it is a pity that there are so few people in Lithuania who want to learn the art of circus. It is also sad that there are basically no circus school here, and only festivals such as this lets people, who are interested, learn something. Sure, it is only wishful thinking, but maybe, and just maybe after my lectures, some students will realise they really want to commit to this and become the founders of contemporary circus in Lithuania.
Do you like Vilnius?
We travel a lot, so I have been to a lot of places in the world – I have been to China, Peru, Brasil, Argentina, Costa Rica, all around Europe, but while being in Lithuania, I finally feel like I am at home. Lithuanians create a friendly and warm atmosphere to live, teach and create. I had hoped that Lithuanians would be colder, more like Ukrainians or Russians, but I was wrong. Everyone talks to you here, everyone wants to help. I have never seen that in my life, especially nowadays, when people merely think about themselves and become even more selfish than before. That is why it is wonderful to see that Lithuanians are a happy and friendly nation. I really hope I can come back here some time, in fact I would like to create the art of circus in Lithuania and help you find your uniqueness.
With its curiosity and strength, the Arts Printing House has created a surely interesting and unique program, that includes everything young Lithuanians would seek for in order to perceive contemporary art. So let us meet on the 9-13th of September and every single one of you can become a tiny part of this festival, that you will carry in your heart for weeks to come. You will learn to listen without hearing, look without seeing, create metaphors together and thrive to do it all the time.
Interview with Roberto Magro was done by Simona Česnakaitė (information of the Arts Printing House)
The tenth annual International contemporary circus festival "New Circus Weekend'15" will take place at the Arts Printing House, in Vilnius, on the 9-13th of September.