By all accounts, Edinburgh Fringe 2017 was as exciting as ever and now that the awards have been announced, we can see what circus companies have been singled out as exceptional. What’s On Stage posted the short list of contenders for the Total Theatre Awards in partnership with Jacksons Lane, explaining that “a total of 538 eligible shows were assessed over the first 11 days of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. These shows have been viewed between two and four times by a curated panel of 28 peer assessors from nine countries.”
Among the short-listed for Total Theatre & Jacksons Lane Award for Circus were:
All Genius All Idiot-Svalbard Company with Aurora Nova and Follow the Rabbit (Sweden)
All the Fun-Cie Ea Eo in association with Aurora Nova (Belgium)
Fauna-Fauna in association with Aurora Nova and Follow the Rabbit (Sweden)
No Show-Ellie Dubois (Scotland)
In the Physical / Visual Theatre category the short list was:
Sigma-Gandini Juggling (England)
Snigel and Friends-Caroline Bowditch and Company (Scotland)
The Narrator-Spitfire Company (Czech Republic)
The Award Givers
Jackson Lane is the UK’s premiere circus venue and a huge supporter of contemporary circus. Since 2014, they have been working in partnership with Total Theatre awards to assess the circus and physical theater based companies at the festival as part of the judging panel and also by presenting a residency to the winning company. Total Theatre Awards kept things lively on the 24th of August on Twitter with a running tweet storm of the winners as they were announced.
But Total Theatre and Jacksons Lane weren’t the only awards in town. Many outlets presented awards to shows in dozens of categories (like Comedian Choice Awards; best performer) to multiple genres. For a full list of Fringe festival winners in all categories, visit Beyond the Joke.
Now for the Winners
It might seem surprising that a company whose origins are mainly juggling has swept the awards, but it is true, Gandini Juggling won multiple awards this year with their production of Sigma, including the Total Theatre Award for Physical Visual Theatre, as well as the The Asian Arts Awards for best director and Herald AngelsArchangel prize, awarded to “to someone who has made a sustained and valued contribution over a number of years.” Sean Gandini explained their sustained contribution in numbers, “We have been to Edinburgh 6 times in 25 years. Back in the day– there was no contemporary circus!” But anyone familiar with their work will understand that Gandini’s signature style of striking, synchronized juggling melded with postmodern dance creates an unearthly geometric balance of drama and beauty which, when combined their theatrical inclinations, simply makes an astonishingly unique show–with or without a contemporary circus label.
Another Angel award winner was Ellie Duboiswith her groundbreaking show No Showwhich was a festival favorite among critics for its willingness to explore the neglected topic of the role women are often relegated to in the circus world.
What do these awards mean to circus companies? With the Total Theatre Award the recognition goes beyond a company CV booster and brings actual opportunities in the form of residencies, grants and tour bookings. Ellis Dubois, creator of No Show said this about her award winning experience “We were really surprised! We are a tiny little company right at the start of what we are doing so it was such a delight to win a Herald Angel. It means lots to the future of the show and our ability to tour and it’s also really exciting to have been recognized as part of the growing circus community in Scotland.”
Feature photo courtesy of Gandini Juggling/Cameron Starr