Jacksons Lane’s Adrian Berry made the trek across the pond from his usual programming and artistic director position at Jacksons Lane to attend MCC and MICC, and he shared his insights about the professional conference experience…
I’d been invited to be a guest of the International Market of Contemporary Circus (MICC), part of the 2019 edition of the Montréal Complètement Cirque festival. Being Artistic Director of a circus-led venue I had long admired the festival, its host venue and driving force TOHU, and the Montreal scene in general, but somehow had never made it across the pond. This was their 10th anniversary festival – it would have been rude to refuse, and I felt honoured to have been invited. So alongside four other UK friends and partners (Mimbre, Assembly, Underbelly, Roundhouse) and one of our own artists, Laura Murphy, I made my way to the land of Soleil, Leonard Cohen and poutine. Here are my five takeaways from the brilliant festival:
1. It’s a circus-crazy city
Not just within the festival: it’s in their blood. Out on the streets, in spaces where you didn’t know there were spaces, in theatres, schools, playgrounds, on top of buildings, in corridors…it’s everywhere. The taxi drivers know all about the circus culture, and over a café au lait and croissant one morning, an old bohemian fellow in a beatnik beret advised me where to go to see some ‘secret’ performances, with a sly wink. You can’t escape it.
2. There is no single aesthetic to Quebec circus
OK, so there’s definitely a trickle-down effect from Cirque de Soleil and The 7 Fingers, and many local artists have performed with ‘the big two’, but no pieces I saw felt even remotely similar, from the experimental fourth-wall breaking of L’Autre Cirque, to 15 of us crammed into an old-style downtown apartment to witness the claustrophobic yet beguiling duet performance ‘Se Prendre’, exploring love and intimacy. Montreal circus transcends genres, and pushes the limits…
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