Guest Blog: Director Joanna Vymeris On Combining Poetry and Circus in SKY IN THE PIE
Waiter, there's a Sky in my Pie,
Remove it at once if you please,
You can keep your incredible sunsets
I ordered mincemeat and cheese.
It's pretty impossible not to fall in love with the wonderfully wacky words of Roger McGough and his totally bonkers but reliably relatable poems. Their wit, wisdom and silliness in equal measure pleases adults and children alike, and it's what drew me to his work. Roger has a way with words and themes that truly makes him a people's poet, and Sky in the Pie sets out to celebrate his craft in the art form I personally know best: circus.
So why is this show important? And why now? Well, to start, poetry is being squeezed out of young curriculums, which is an immense loss and will ultimately diminish the creative potential of future generations. It has the ability to make people laugh, cry and question everything they know. In just a few lines, it can really show children the power and possibilities of their own language. We want to not only celebrate Roger's incredible career, but also encourage parents and children to find joy in poems.
But what can the sequins and sawdust of circus possibly have to do with poetry? Well, our contemporary circus company is always striving for unexpected multidisciplinary collaborations. And what better than the rhythms, precision and surrealism of Roger's poetry to spark choreographic fireworks.
To me, the rhyme, rhythm and lyrical nature of poetry perfectly lends itself to circus and physical theatre. I've explored circus and poetry on numerous occasions with the Nasty Poet in our shows Coppelia and Mythologue. In terms of bringing Roger's work to life, it was obvious to me that the sound collector could be a juggler, the blue macaw in the drawer an aerialist in a lollipop pole, and the Midnight Skaters had to be a metal Cyr wheel spinning around the stage.
And if circus and poetry wasn't enough visual and audio stimulation, we didn't stop there. We wanted to explore the poems in as diverse ways as possible and have woven in beautiful puppets by Sian Kidd. The Caterpillow, Girl who wanted to be a Book and the scary Scarecrow are all brought to life through Sian's fabulous creations. Finally, we chose to turn some of Roger's poems into songs with a beautiful new score written by Steve Halliwell. Our five performers will burst into song, leap into acrobatics and rhyme riotously in our one hour show.
So, is Sky in the Pie for you? Almost certainly! Clichéd as it may sound, there is truly something for everyone in Sky at the Pie. It is aimed at children, but with enough humour, skill and spectacle to please parents, grandparents and even recalcitrant teenage siblings.
Photo credit: Nic Kane