Bianco: powerful acrobats for a winter magic

Photo Credit: Tristram Kenton
Everything begins with chaos.
And smoothly, or rather violently, the order is restored.

Around ten minutes passed before the veil of the square cage in front of us was pulled off, and all the members of the shouting group who was at the centre, around, and on the top of it, took their places
– for the next ten minutes, at least.

I think the last time I went to the circus I was a child, and I can barely remember the elephants out of the whole show.

If you have a similar experience or thinks circus means just some twists in the air, be ready to marvel. It would be highly unfair, indeed, to call this unique show ‘simply’ a circus performance.

Photo Credit: Tristram Kenton
Bianco, directed by Fiorenza Guidi and presented by NoFit State, is a play of the human souls, moving in search of meaning, playing with light and darkness, seeking companions on the road.

There is live music, making your feet beating the timing as one of the juggler is raised in midair flipping skittles.

There are laughs while two of the performers start a competition for who can swing the greatest number of hula-hoops around their body.

And, above all, there are extraordinary acrobatics.

Bianco in Italian means white, one of the predominant colours in the show, together with black.

The shadows stretch on the walls of the tent, while lamps light up from top to the bottom, right, left, all over the floor, or it becomes just a beam on the swing.

As the clock stroke half past seven, some guys walked around, in and out of the central veiled cage, and chat with the audience. At a certain point, they start to shout at each other, dance in couples, call the names from one side to the other, in a dim light.

NoFit State, founded 30 years ago in Cardiff, is one of the few circus company “old ways”: the members perform, learn, live, and travel together. And similar scenes that reunite them all on the stage really give a sense of unity.

Coordination is a key element of this show, as it is also the ease by which every act is performed and that can come only by a great empathy among the members.

A promenade show means the audience will not have a comfortable chair where to sit from the beginning to the end, but, directed by white-flower stewards, the public move from one side to the other. I was expecting a long walk lasting around 2 hours, instead the passages were actually few and short, and indeed they allow me from time to time to seek for a better position.

My advice, in fact - if, like me, you are not a tall lady - is to try to be as much as possible on the front for the first part. Whereas, for the second half, I would recommend to get a bit of distance and move behind to have an overall view.

The show indeed starts with two, and then goes on with single performances, followed by group acts. Whoever is in the spotlight for the moment, the artists are all there, at every single stage of the show.

There were indeed two elements I particularly appreciated.

Firstly, the engagement with the audience.
Apart from the very beginning, the performers do not really chat anymore with the public during the show. However, as they walk on the rope or flip through big hoops, we hear French, Spanish, Italian words (and I am sure there were other languages in the middle, but I couldn’t recognize them).

There was a sort of dialogue - as this is not always made up of words –  going on between the artists and the audience, as we moved closer to the raised platform up the entrance or some of us were side by side with those who lifted the performers with the ropes.

Secondly, it was a really full circle show. The artists jumped and run all over the big top, and they changed the scene very quickly while everything was on – there would always be someone left entertaining the audience while all the movements and repositioning were made.

The art of such talented acrobats and the energy coming from their performance simply filled the whole space.

In addition to all these, the costumes and props added that extra sparkle to the warm atmosphere inside the big top.

Everything begins with chaos, and, although not all the problems would be solved by the end, there is calm and inspiring hope: Bianco shines even more in the cold winter.
entering Southbank Winter Festival
Part of Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival supported by NatWest.
Dates: 23 November 2016 – 22 January 2017

Thanks to Theatre Bloggers for the invite.