A View from Bell Square's Artistic Director: Silence comes to London


A View from Bell Square's Artistic Director: Silence comes to London

Intro When Teatr Biuro Podróży premiered their new show, Silence, in 2016, I did wonder what to expect.  It was described as a sequel to their earlier show, Carmen Funebre – or Funeral Song.  Carmen Funebre was a show about the impact of war on civilians as the former Yugoslavia broke up in the 1990s.  It was a mighty piece of theatre, uncompromising and searing in its impact.  It is also known as one of the most legendary pieces of outdoor arts ever made.  So, would this sequel live up to its predecessor’s reputation?  Like most people that night, as the show came to an end, I was left stunned, in silence.  As the company took their bows at the end of the performance, it was some moments before the silence gave way to applause.  The intensity of those few moments have stayed with me ever since.

As this wonderful show comes to Bell Square on 9 September, you may like to know a little of the background of Teatr Biuro Podróży and Silence.

The company This famed Polish outdoor theatre company was set up by Paweł Szkotak with a group of young and passionate actors in Poznan in 1988.  Since then, they have created 14 different theatre productions, and performed over a thousand times for audiences in 50 different countries.  They have always been determined to make theatre in a different way to accepted traditions, and to make that theatre for people who don’t normally go to well-known theatre institutions.  They care about people and the stories of their lives.  Teatr Biuro Podróży’s shows are social, political and powerful.

The company emerged onto the scene as civil resistance in Poland demonstrated the people’s demand for change and led to the end of communist rule in the summer of 1989.  The new company came up with the name Biuro Podróży, which means Travel Agency.  In a country behind the Iron Curtain, very few people were able to obtain passports.  As the rest could travel only in their imagination, the ironically-named Teatr Biuro Podróży offered an ‘escape’ through theatre.

The group’s most famous piece, Carmen Funebre, was made in 1993-94.  As the Balkans Wars raged, just south of Poland, and the former Yugoslavia broke up, 4 million people were displaced in the 10 years from 1991-2001.  Carmen Funebre was based on interviews with victims of the wars and specifically explored the impact of war on civilians.  This seminal theatre production continues to tour the world today.

Silence In Silence, the sequel to Carmen Funebre, the company returns to the story of refugees and migrants caught up in the spiral of war.  Directed by its founder, Paweł Szkotak, the show uses physical theatre, overwhelming music, and the highly visual effects of fire, and tyrants towering on stilts, to tell the story of people again trapped in the turmoil of war.  In the context of carnage and cleansing in the Middle East, Teatr Biuro Podróży tell the fate of refugees caught up in the mass exodus to Europe, looking for a safer place.

In Silence, the situation is seen from the viewpoint of someone living in a besieged city, a city destroyed by bombs.  Someone who, a few years ago, could never have imagined that they would one day become a refugee. Children are represented through life size puppets – the innocent witnesses of the death of loved ones, and the victims of exile and starvation.  Silence asks that, for a moment, we put ourselves in their world.

Teatr Biuro Podróży present Silence at Bell Square on Saturday 9 September 2017 at 8.00 pm.  The show lasts 50 minutes. For full listing and video trailer click here




Blogger in residence TrendFEM reviews Joli Vyann

We are delighted to share another review of one of our Bell Square London events by our blogger in residence Mary Nguyen of TrendFEM.

Photo by Mary Nguyen

Photo by Mary Nguyen


Joli Vyann, an ‘innovative fusion of circus, dance and theatre’ company, stunned the local audience of Bell Square London, at the end of Hounslow’s busy high street, with their audacious, yet ethereal performance Lance Moi En L’air (Throw me in the air). They danced slowly together to soft music, by Xavier Demerliac, a blend of light acoustic sounds and percussion instruments which enhanced the timeless states of their bold and impressively delicate movements.

Ex-stuntman Jan Patzke and ex-gymnast Olivia Quale formed Joli Vyann in 2012 and have continued to tour internationally, captivating audiences with their refreshing take on dance and acrobatics. In the middle of Bell Square, whilst Patzke was crouched on the floor, Quale skillfully climbed on his back. Steadily, he stood up tall without holding her hands. Then, somehow, Quale was standing on top of Patzke’s head, balancing herself on one foot. There, Joli Vyann had become a 8 ft tall person.

You can continue reading Mary's review of Joli Vyann at Bell Square London on her blog here.


Our next event is coming up:

Cirque Rouages


Sat 29 July, 8.45pm

Captivating French circus, performed at dusk. Live music, acrobatics and circus performers tell an
enchanting tale. Details on the What's On Page



Bell Square Volunteer Catherine reviews Far from the Norm

Today's blog has been written by our social media ambassador Cathie who came along to the Bell Square performance of H.O.H by Far from the Norm. Here's her take on the event and some amazing photos she captured on the day too - just check out the gallery below - just click on the images to see the whole sequence.  Thanks again Catherine and we look forward to welcoming you back soon.

Blog review by Catherine: 'Far from the Norm' performed today at Bell Square in Hounslow. It is an interactive dance group that uses the hip-hop genre of dance to connect with the audience.

Although a sudden shower had threatened to put an end to the afternoon activity even before it began, the Sun soon came shining through the dark clouds. The organisers heaved a huge sigh of relief and began humming the famous Beatles number ‘Here comes the Sun’ as they wiped the benches and swept the square dry.

Soon the bell was rung on Bell Square to indicate the beginning of the performance. A curious crowd had already gathered around looking forward to this week’s performance. It was a bunch of people of myriad ages and hues. Right from the swinging sixties to toddlers in prams, it was a sight to behold as they all swayed to the beats of the hip hopping dancers.

The dancers worked their way through the crowd and even persuaded a bunch of happy kids to join them in their dance with a skit woven through to convey a message, which I thought was about ending the fighting and war in Somalia.  

It ended abruptly with the crowd waiting for more! They were assured that there were more performances at 3pm too!

Thanks Catherine

Don't forget - if you want to enjoy our free events in Hounslow you can check up on what's coming up on the web site here.  And if you want to come along and take photos or videos, why don't you sign up as a Bell Square London volunteer social media ambassador here?

See you at Bell Square soon!



New for 2017: Bell Square Volunteers - do you want to take part?

Bell Square London - volunteer.jpeg


The Bell Square London team is always busy finding ways to engage with the local community to create more buzz around our season of events and 2017 is no different.

This year we have launched a volunteer programme working with Volunteer Hounslow and Team London. We are asking people to be part of the Bell Square London team on a volunteer basis to help spread the word about our outdoor arts events using social media. So if you're a whizz on Whatsapp, a fabulous Facebook or an influencer on instagram - you might want to give this a go. Or perhaps you are not at all but would love to be? If you don't have experience, we will be giving volunteers a training session on how to be involved.

Want to know who we're looking for?

Volunteering is open to all - if you are under 16 you will need to get your parents to complete a parental agreement form.  Ideally, you will have a good writing and digital skills which you are looking to improve - the volunteering will involve a variety of activities depending on your experience, anything from posting images to instagram through to writing blog posts and for the more adventurous creating and editing short videos.

Read more about the role on Volunteering Hounslow here. If you don't live in the borough of Hounslow, you can try Team London here.

What's in it for you?

We know you want to support your local community and the great Bell Square London events by volunteering - but it's not just a one way street - we want you to benefit from your experience. We will give any training and support necessary and pay your travel expenses. If you are keen to add this volunteering to your CV we will support that and also give you a reference if you'd like one. In addition, if you want to get writing credits to show you have published work, we are more than happy to give these to you as well.

Want to get involved? Get in touch on the links above and we'll be delighted to hear from you!



Blogger in Residence TrendFEM reviews: Paradiso, Akademi at Bell Square London

Our blogger in residence, Mary of TrendFEM came along to watch Akademi at Bell Square recently. We were very excited to host her as we knew she would not be disappointed by the whole experience.

As we walked up to the empty square, we could see a large circle drawn in chalk, very intriguing! If you haven't visited Bell Square before you may have walked through it on a 'normal' day - there's a pub, a fish shop, a restaurant and a bookies. When Bell Square is set up for a performance day, the area is transformed with pop up wooden tiered seating in the round.  This creates a horse shoe shape as each end of the semi circle meets the stone benches. There's a gazebo for the production team who are always on site and managing the sound system and helping the performers get set up. You can see how it looks below - it's quite something to see an empty space transformed into something extraordinary - we often have crowds of one thousand or more turning up to watch and enjoy contemporary outdoor arts for free.

Photo credits: Mary Nguyen, TrendFEM

Mary Trendfem Akademi.jpg

Here's Mary's review:

Akademi tantalised Hounslow’s local community last Saturday with their multifaceted exploration of Dante’s Paradiso: Man’s Enduring Search for Perfection at Bell Square London, a free festival packed with dance and physical theatre performances. Paradiso is a poignant and highly moving piece of choreography. Following the inspirational conceptualisation of Akademi’s director Mira Kaushik OBE and choreographer Jose Agudo, Akademi instills Dante’s final stage of his narrative poem, written in1308-1321, The Divine Comedy, through a wide-range of contemporary and traditional Indian dance styles.

For 40 years, Akademi has continued with their mission to inspire and bring ‘classical, contemporary, popular and participatory South Asian dance’ to all audiences. Their mission, to inspire, is crystal clear throughout Paradiso. In his literary masterpiece, Dante describes the struggles and obstacles man faces in a lifetime. Akademi expresses these cosmological and mortal forces through the strength of six diverse dancers, some more experienced in Indian dance and others trained in contemporary dance technique.

You can read the rest of her Bell Square London review on TrendFEM.

TrendFEM 2 Akademi.jpg