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Gemma Interviews NoFitState star Simone

I am not a huge fan of promenade performance, so often I have found myself chivvied along by a hurried usher, willing me to step this way and that or scurry down a corridor or into a barn or up a chimney to sample the creative delights of the expectant performance givers.

No Fit State Circus invite you to ‘…become immersed in a promenade circus event taking place above around and amongst the audience in an explosion of furious fun and choreographed mayhem’

Choreographed mayhem? I spluttered into my brain, good lord I do hope not, as I had a flashback of a time in my childhood involving some well meaning nuns and a Morris dance…

So upon arrival at The Roundhouse I shuffle into the auditorium and cling to some big sturdy scaffolding draped in a reassuringly sturdy tarpaulin and settle in to absorb the proceedings gently on the periphery. Ha! Oh fool am I! The lights went down and my friendly tarpaulin was snatched away to reveal what I can only describe to you as a whole world of beautiful commotion, acrobats dangling seductively from great harnesses, that suspend them high above our heads, the atmosphere is charged with excitement and apprehension.

A live band strikes up and the magic begins, the performers come from every direction with flare and gusto and fire in their bellies, whooping and yelling as trampolines throw them every which way as they skim on their bungees just above our heads; a lovely little girl dances past me cradling a cuddly frog telling me to be quiet because he is sleeping! A jellyfish curtain wrapped around an aerialist descends at the far end of the space, a huge watery curtain sails by containing a writhing, gasping girl as she soars and sinks to the gentle voice of her colleague who is wandering gently among us. Then a cigar toting man swaggers over a bridge on my right twirling an umbrella made of fire, my attention is then drawn to the floor where a man in a giant wheel is whirling round and round while a pigtailed dancer flies around above. An hilarious trapeze act ensues with exhilarating precision and delightful comic timing. There’s more and more and too much to tell you about!

The lights come up and the show is over and I find myself agog, placing my chin back near my upper jaw I realise I am nowhere near my trusty scaffold and I have somehow ended up on the other side of the space. They got me - I was completely absorbed, involved and moved by the whole experience and I would encourage you to waltz on down there and grab a lovely memory for the bank. NFS won critical acclaim for their last show ImMortal, and now, under the expert guidance of Director Firenza Guido I have no doubt Tabu will enjoy a matched reception.

Now, I have twittered on enough, so I must tell you that I was lucky enough to meet up with the aforementioned ‘man in a giant wheel’ or ‘The German Wheel’ I have now discovered to be the correct term for such a skill.

The lovely Simone Riccio has worked for No Fit State for two years and he was kind enough to spend a bit of time with me the next day to answer some of my star struck schoolgirl questions…

Gemma: Simone, I would argue that you are all in an exceptionally fit state, discuss…
Hahahahaha! (Yes, ok I didn’t ask him that, that’s me laughing there, not him, he had gone to get a coffee and I was rehearsing my questions, that one got cut…)

Gemma: How did you come to work with No Fit State?
Simone: No Fit State became very interesting to me after I saw Immortal-Their approach to Circus was entirely different from the formal and clichéd circus I had previously come across. They showed that circus doesn’t have to stick to the conventional premise, but can be warm and chaotic and passionate, their energy captivated me. However I was still training at that time so I thought I would have no chance to work with them. Then one day I bumped into a friend of mine in Toulouse where she was performing with NFS and she told me there were auditions for new performers the next week, so, driven by my desire to work with them, I got in my van and drove all the way from Toulouse to Cardiff for an intense 5 day audition at the end of which I was lucky enough to gain a place and I haven’t looked back.

Gemma: Tell me about the process you go through in preparing a show for NFS
Simone: We all met for rehearsals a month and a half before the first performance; Firenza has a great vision and a real compassion and respect for us as performers, she knows that the show is about us and the essence of who we are so the real focus was on finding everyone’s character, as we already had the circus skills, the most important thing when we got together was devising and creating the detail and the story we wanted to tell.

Tabu is inspired by Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s book 100 Years of Solitude, so as we read it we all found someone in the story we could relate to and we went from there. I am Pietro Crespi, a very handsome and polite Italian musician who comes to a tragic end.

Gemma: How do you find the circus lifestyle?
Simone: Well not only do we work together but we also live together and eat together so it’s very much a community life, it’s got a lot of good points and a lot of things which aren’t so easy, a lot of jobs you go to work, you finish the work and then you can do other things, here you work 24hr in a way, of course you have certain times where you are required to work, to rehearse, to train, to do the show etc…but after this, when you go home your neighbour is your colleague. But we deal with it well, because we all know that it can be difficult so we all try our best to make it easy and respect each other, we’ve all got big souls in the company. It’s a lot of work but it’s also a lot of fun.

Gemma: Your act in the show is The German Wheel, you make it look so easy, is it?
Simone: The main problem for me is the floor-the German wheel is designed to work on a flat smooth surface only, but because we move to so many different venues I have come across many unsuitable floors-it’s a bit complicated for me when we move from one venue to another, because in each new place there is a different floor. So I have had to adapt to all kinds of surfaces such as grass and slopes and bumps, I spend a lot of time adjusting my act to work on different surfaces.

Gemma: Where are you all staying?
Simone: You can come and have a look if you like…

And so we trotted out into the Roundhouse Car Park and I got a tour of the living quarters, the tea tent, the family area and the costume van, a thriving, sunny place with a lovely heart-enormously reflective of the show I pretentiously yet genuinely suggested.

Go along and see for yourself, they’ll make you feel like the show is just for you.

NoFitState is running until 19 April at the Roundhouse. Click through, or call the Box Office on: 0844 482 8008.

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