EcoCentrics - Confronting environmental issues with live performance and music

A TIPPING POINT

Ladles and Jellyspoons, Baubles and Gerbils – roll up for a fabulously funny eco-show!  Clowning, music and mayhem bring home the imperative of urgent action on climate change to a broad audience through anarchic fun and laughter.

A Tipping Point is a one- hour, small-scale circus show for children and families.  It offers positive ways of talking about and responding to climate change as high octane clowning, custard-pie and clown car tricks leave the children shouting with excitement.  Art, music and circus skills workshops are offered in the lead up to the show so the whole community can get involved.  Whether you are a council, transition town, school network or festival, this show is a great way of engaging people with your carbon cutting agendas and combating climate change fatigue.
(suitable for village halls, theatres or marquee/circus tent). 
**(needs arts council logo)

The Making of the Show 

Inspired by their local transition movement, writer Amanda Boulter and composer Karen Wimhurst teamed up with the designer Peter Rush and director Paul Jordan to create a show, particularly to debunk the idea that information about climate change is depressing, overwhelming and not suitable for a family audience. With the help of Winchester University and local charities, this was trialled in 2009 in collaboration with Transition Town Shaftesbury and then moved to Sustainable Sunningdale.  Following this success, with support from the Arts Council and the think tank Futerra, this show is now ready to tour.      

Workshops 

Workshops are an important part of the build up to the show.  There are a number of possibilities which we will talk through with you.  They can be used in both school and broader community situations and have the potential of drawing together a diverse group of localpeople of all ages.  In this way the show is a catalyst for a creative community venture. 

  • An exciting day of music, art and circus skills workshops leading up to an evening performance.  An introduction to climate change issues is given. Then the performance space is transformed by everyone into a circus, songs are learnt for the show and lots of  fun is had with the clowns learning circus tricks. 
  • Support communities to participate further by creating their own procession to lead into the show. This greatly contributes to the excitement and anticipation preceding the show
  • Provision of music and workshops for a community band to accompany a procession. This can be adapted to suit all ages and abilities of musician
  • Write you own ending!!  This show has a ‘can do message’ and we want people to leave the show ready to get involved with any initiatives you have in your area.  We’ll work with you to weave your ideas into the end of the tale.

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The Team

Karen Wimhurst  (Composer/Artistic Producer) The composer’s work came to prominence with the Scottish theatre company Communicado, winning several fringe firsts as well as the Herald Angel Award in her recent production ‘Song and Dance Man’ with Mike Maran.  She has been commissioned by festivals and ensembles throughout the UK, most recently working as resident composer with Peninsula Arts, Plymouth University (2008-2009).  Versatile and eclectic, her work includes many cross-disciplinary collaborations; composer with environmental charity Common Ground 1999 – 2002 (winner of the Independent Award Best Environmental company 2010); fine art/music collaborations with artist Keith McIntyre (4 K Plot Baltic Galleries 2005); Fragility of Flight (gallery tour 2007-2009); music theatre ‘Darwin and the Barnacle’ 2009); guest speaker/composer at the Wellcome Trust conference 2009 ‘War and Memory’. Experienced in many different community settings she directed the Westminster Opera Team for English National Opera. Recent large scale works include ‘City Songs’ for orchestra, children’s choir, soloists- Welsh National Opera; ‘Alive and Kicking’ for improvising youth string orchestra and Manchester Camerata.

Dr Amanda BoulterDr Amanda Boulter (Writer) is Senior Lecturer in English and Creative Writing at the University of Winchester. She is a published novelist (Around the Houses; Back Around the Houses), award-winning essayist and author of Writing Fiction: Creative and Critical Approaches. She has written many critical articles and regularly speaks at conferences. Her current work is focused on creativity and climate change. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Peter RushPeter Rush (Designer) studied painting at St. Martin's School of Art, London. After a spell in Canada and the USA he returned to work first as a teacher then as a freelance illustrator for BBC TV 'Jackanory' and Yorkshire TV, plus magazines and books, some of his own. About 1986 he developed a method of modelling in wire and paper and has two travelling exhibitions, 'Rush on Paper' and 'Rush on Them - Parodies in Paper' that tour Britain. Recently Peter Rush had a major one man exhibition of  over fifty large landscapes at the UCA James Hockey Gallery.
A year ago he found a way of softening plastic cutlery over heat and using this method to make surprisingly realistic beetles, mantis, crabs and dragonflies etc. and went on to hold workshops in schools with all ages of children.
On  the strength of the success of these he is going to N.Cambodia in February this year, 2011, to take the method on to the streets and show street children, the idea being that they might take it up and so make a small income for themselves selling to tourists. All this is to be filmed and brought back to England where it will be used as a money raising venture to finance more people to go and do the same thing in other places, particularly the South African townships. 

Paul JordanPaul Jordan (Director) has directed many projects at his local art centre in Shaftesbury, Dorset. He teaches drama at Salisbury High School, a specialist art college and has directed many shows such as Little Shop of Horrors, Oh What a Lovely War and A Midsummer Nights Dream. He has also produced and directed very successful musicals like We Will Rock You and The Wizard of Oz.

Julia MarkusJulia Markus (Administrator) spent a number of years teaching English in schools in Italy, London and Wiltshire. While her 4 children were young she published study texts for GCSE and A Level and taught Basic Skills for Adult Learning. She now combines helping with administration for EcoCentrics with tutoring and co-ordinating Family Learning for Dorset Adult Learning.

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The cast:

Tilly Twist, born Emily Ball, is a versatile, multi-skilled performer - favourite skills being juggling, hula-hoop and all kinds of fire props.   Having taught herself to juggle aged 14, Emily went on to attend Circomedia, Europe’s leading centre for Circus and Physical Theatre in 2005-6, and following this, their one year teaching course in 2006-7.  She has since been working as a professional circus performer and teacher, most recently appearing on BBC 1’s ‘Tonight’s the Night’ with John Barrowman. Tilly (or Miss Twist) has emerged as Emily’s colourful circus alter-ego, loving all things pink, glittery and hoop-shaped especially!

Chanti Hobbit has taken part in many festivals with the well known Bristol based fire troop Chimaera and with a revolutionary stage building team called Arcadia. This kick started her circus career leading her to join Performers Without Borders where she travelled to India, Pakistan, China, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan teaching circus skills to street children.  Chanti now works as a full time performer with hula hooping as her speciality, from walkabout performances with Circii and Area 51, to Pantalooneys, The Invisible Circus and Arcadia.

Mark Blackham has been acting and directing since 1986, taking five shows to the Edinburgh Fringe.  His acting roles have included comedy (inc The Real Inspector Hound, Run for Your Wife, Black Comedy), drama (inc Wait Until Dark, Oh What a Lovely War, Man For All Seasons, Nicholas Nickleby) and musicals (inc Into the Woods, Cole, and most recently as Eliza's father in My Fair Lady and Petruchio/Fred in Kiss Me Kate). He is most proud of his directing talents, having steered Gillingham Arts Workshop to the National Semi Finals of the All England One Act Play Festival in 2008 and in recent years has directed his two favourite plays, Educating Rita and 'Art'.

The musicians;

Pete Rosser is an accordionist, jazz pianist and eclectic composer based in Stroud. Founder of Tango Siempre (UK's leading tango ensemble) recording and touring 1998-2008. Vast range of community music experience with choirs, schools and musicians of all kinds for Dr Fosters Theatre Co, Firebird Trust, DIVA, DAISI and others, in Gloucestershire and nationally.

Karen Wimhurst (clarinets)  founded the Cauld Blast Orchestra,  (twice winner of the Scottish Jazz Awards) She currently performs with the free-improvisation group Zaum, (‘ the most exciting group in Europe today’ Penguin Guide to Jazz ‘06), Misbehavin’ and the seven piece celtic band, Big Top.

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Reviews

“ The show as a circus was spectacular, full of all the traditional quirks, including an old car, acrobatics, clowns in big (carbon footprint!) shoes who really engaged with the audience and even a custard pie in the face. In fact, following the eco-circus I went to see a normal circus which paled in comparison……. By telling children about climate change in a fun and vibrant way, but still hitting home with the serious message, I imagine that it will have families across the village talking about what they can do to make a difference.” The Bracknell News 2010

“It’s a really important message, told with great music, with a witty script, colourful costumes, bags of good ideas “ BVM 2009

Like being at a pantomime with attitude! It worked on so many levels and you reached parents, friends and children with a hard hitting series of coherent messages, but with an upbeat "we can do something about this" feel to it. The children's joy and animation was clearly heightened by their participation in the songs and starting procession and then being able to relax to watch the action.... ” Sue Clifford, Director Common Ground

The children all had a great time participating, singing and yelling along – the ones I came with were talking about it the rest of the weekend. I was also really impressed by the high skill standard of the clowns, acrobats and music.” Jane Altounyan, Community Climate Change Coordinator, Eastleigh Borough Council

“I particularly enjoyed the witty script which appealed to all ages. It didn't talk down to the children or adults but presented hard facts in a clear and memorable way. Altogether, this performance was fun, colourful, exhilarating and very professional, with a serious edge that did not diminish its appeal or enjoyment but which gave a vivid sense of the urgency of climate change.” Sarah Goode, University of Winchester

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Technical info

Click here for pdf

Video

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Gallery

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EcoCentrics - - 01747 850978