Ockham's Razor has been lauded as one of the most exciting new circus companies in the UK for over 10 years. But their shows have all been made for indoor theatres - until now. Belly of the Whale is their new show - their first for outdoors – and it comes to Bell Square on Saturday 8 September.
Belly of the Whale is set on a giant, semi-circular, see-saw structure. It is a beautiful wooden sculpture in its own right and the company use it to showcase their signature blend of circus skills, humour and breathtaking moments of risk.
Ockham's Razor describe themselves as an aerial theatre company who combine circus and very visual performance to make shows that are both arresting and entertaining. Their starting point for making a new show is often the creation of a new piece of equipment - like the beautiful wooden see-saw above.
From that, they devise a story flowing from the experience of the artists using the structure - especially the vulnerability, trust and reliance on each other when performing complex routines, not only in the air, but often at high speed. But Ockham's Razor are not just a circus company that do impressive tricks. The characters in their shows reflect experiences and emotions that we can all identify with and relate to.
Belly of the Whale
And so it is in their new show. The concept of the 'belly of the whale' is found in mythology from all over the world. It is, for example, seen in the well-known tale of Jonah and the Whale.
The story goes that when Jonah was asked to perform a very difficult task, he avoided it and went away in a boat. A storm came, the boat sank and Jonah, having fallen into the sea, was swallowed by a whale. Whilst being thrown around inside the whale's belly, scared and isolated, he had time to reflect seriously on his life, and admit to himself that he had avoided taking responsibility. After several days, he came to the view that he should face up to what had been asked of him. Eventually, the whale came to the shore, where Jonah had been asked to undertake the task, and coughed him up from its belly. Jonah then went on to complete the task he had been asked to do.
This same story is told in many different ways across the world but the message is basically the same. All involve being swallowed or eaten by some kind of large beast! The Eskimo of Bering Strait tells of a raven that was also eaten by a whale. Zulu mythology tells of a mother and children eaten by an elephant. Even Red Riding Hood, in the folk tale from Germany, was eaten by the wolf!
Essentially, though, a 'belly of the whale' experience involves much soul-searching, in a rather dark place, before finally facing up to a very difficult situation! In taking on the challenge, though, we transform our character and come out of it a stronger person. Most of us have probably had a 'belly of the whale' experience at some time in our lives!
Ockham's Razor's show, then, asks us what happens when we confront our fears? When we come face to face with the power of things we initially feel we can't change?
The performers, as if themselves on a turbulent sea, ride the giant see-saw, which creaks and groans as it throws them around. But over time, it gradually changes into a gently rocking cradle, and then a tunnel, and finally a slide.
Tina Koch from Ockham's Razor and the director of the show, says, 'In this current climate, it can often feel like you are fighting with giants, running against walls, being thrown, faced with challenges and changes seemingly beyond your control. The show is a reflection of the world how we experience it. It is about 3 people coming face to face with their biggest challenge and the different ways they deal with it. It is about daring to jump into the unknown and about perseverance - and ultimately discovering that you can go it alone, but you can go further when you join together.'
Come and see Belly of the Whale at Bell Square on Saturday 8 September at 3.00 pm.
And we’d love to hear your thoughts on social media using the #BellSquareLDN hash tag!