A View from our Artistic Director: The Story of Icarus brought to the Street

Southpaw Dance Company present their stunning show, Icarus, at Bell Square on Saturday 8 June. The show brings the ancient Greek myth of Icarus to a contemporary audience on the street.

Icarus by Southpaw image 4 copyright credit 2018 Steve Eggleton .jpg

Southpaw is a well established dance company based in Newcastle in the North East of England. It is led by choreographer Robby Graham, who has developed a strong style of contemporary dance which has the spirit of hip-hop at its heart.

Robby works with Southpaw and other companies, making dance shows for both indoor theatres and outdoor spaces. In 2017, he was the Movement Director for the National Theatre's production of Angels in America - and it was during this time that he had the idea of making a show about Icarus. The National Theatre made a remarkable set of angel's wings for their show and Robby spent much of the rehearsal time helping the actor to move gracefully with these enormous wings! Having done this, he was inspired to make another show using these fabulous wings - and what better a story than Icarus to do that!

The story of Icarus

The story is set on the Greek Island of Crete which, in Greek mythology, is ruled by King Minos.

Icarus is the son of Daedalus, a much admired craftsman and inventor who works for King Minos. The king asks Daedalus to build him a huge labyrinth where he can secretly keep the Minotaur, a huge half-man half-bull creature. It is a secret because most of the islanders do not know about the Minotaur.

Once the labyrinth is built, the King imprisons Daedalus and his family in a tower at the palace so that they cannot tell anyone about the King's secret.

Daedalus is determined to escape and flee the island. However, he knows that the King's army guard the shores of the island so he would not be able to leave by sea. The only possible way to escape would be by air.

Daedalus, being a brilliant inventor, created some gigantic wings - made with tree branches, stuck together with wax, and covered with birds' feathers.

He taught his son, Icarus, how to fly. Before they set off, Daedalus told him not to fly too low as his wings would get wet with sea water, and not to fly too high as the heat of the sun would melt the wax in his wings.

When the day came, Daedalus and Icarus managed to fly up into the air and escape the island. But although he had been warned by his father, the young Icarus was so excited by the thrill of flying that he soared higher and higher into the sky. As his father had told him, the heat of the sun melted the wax and his wings fell apart - and Icarus fell into the sea and drowned.

The story of Icarus has fascinated audiences for centuries, especially perhaps the desire to go beyond human limits and the tragic consequences that brought.

Southpaw's telling of the story

The show starts with Icarus trying on his wings and trying to fly. When he is ready to attempt the flight to escape the island, he and his accomplices embark on a ritual as if trying to invoke the gods to help him.

Finally, he is lifted into the air and flies. As he goes higher, giddy with the euphoria of flying, he barely notices the appearance of the golden sun goddess. As Icarus comes into the full heat of the sun, his wings fall apart, and he falls amid clouds of smoke, to his death.

Come and see this stunning, theatrical telling of the story of Icarus on Saturday 8 June at Bell Square. The show starts at 9.00 pm as dusk falls.