Stumble danceCircus

Symposium programme

Programme subject to change – information as at 11th Feb 2019

Please note the event was not intended as something to pop in and out

of – as it is the listening and participating that is important.  However, here

is a programme with estimated times – it will be fluid.

Friday 15th February 10am to 6pm followed by performance at 7.30pm

No need to print out a ticket, your name will be on the door.

Please book in advance – we are not set up to sell tickets on the door.

  • 10am Arrivals and registration
  • 10.30am Welcoming address
  • 10.40am Alison Tickell
  • 11.20am Franki Anderson
  • Soap boxes and roving reporters
  • 12.20pm Belarus Free Theatre
  • 1pm Lunchtime and optional sessions to unwind physically or mentally – meditation or release
  • 2pm Open discussion on responsibilities of larger institutions.
  • 3pm Nikky Smedley
  • Open space discussions and break out workshop
  • Feedback to the Symposium
  • 4.40pm Rosy Roberts reports on SWAY
  • 5pm to 6pm Closing Actions
  • Bar is open!
  • 7.30pm Performance of Night of Serious Circus

Saturday 16th February 10am to 6pm

No need to print out a ticket, your name will be on the door. Please book in advance as we will not be set up to sell tickets on the door.

  • 10am Arrivals and welcome
  • 10.30am Darren O’Donnell
  • 11.10am Jess Allen
  • Roving reporters and soap boxes
  • 11.50am Break
  • 12.10pm Andrea Carr
  • 12.30pm Liam Geary Baulch from Extinction Rebellion
  • 1pm Mish Weaver
  • Soapboxes
  • 1.40pm Lunch and mini physical sessions
  • 2.40pm Making issue-based work Open Discussion
  • 3.40pm Open spaces and break out workshops
  • Kate Kavanagh with Chloe Clarke from Elbow Room will run a breakout discussion about Audio Description and access as a devising tool.
  • Robin Peters will run a breakout workshop around ethical fundraising.
  • 5pm to 6pm Closing Actions


Alison Tickell, Founder of Julie’s Bicycle, a London based charity that supports the creative community to act on climate change and environmental sustainability. JB believes that the creative community is uniquely placed to transform the conversation around climate change and translate it into action. Alison will talk about her own personal journey understanding climate and the environment, and how the company she founded, Julie’s Bicycle, has responded to the cultural challenge, the successes, failures, lessons and future.

Nikki Smedley’s creative and performance career has taken her through theatre, dance, circus, cabaret and most famously as LaaLaa in the children’s TV show Teletubbies. She now specialises in communication with children; writing, presenting and training, as well as continuing to work as a children’s storyteller. Nikky will present ‘How is making work for children different to making it for adults? What role and responsibility does physical performance have for younger audiences and how do we make it meaningful for them?’ Her short talk will be followed by the opportunity to question and discuss how we meet children’s needs in a breakout group.

Franki Anderson was a co-founder of Fool Time in Bristol, Britain’s first Circus Theatre school. Originally trained in Laban movement back in the early 70’s Franki had a career playing, teaching and directing circus, theatre, street theatre, film, mime, clown and physical theatre. Being a “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but often times better than a master of one.” After Fool Time, Franki set off again on the path of the fool ~ to explore working in circles, the fool and the nature of play, the player and the philosophy of movement. Finally landing in the heart of Cornwall, and it’s anarchic theatre traditions, she provides a space for exploration and expression as Homo Ludens – Human Players. Franki will present a talk entitled ‘Send in the Clowns – the role of the fool when things go wrong.’

Speakers and questions.

Break Out discussion.

Open Spaces and feedback to the Symposium.

Gentle physical workshops to unwind between sessions.

60 second soapboxes to highlight a wide range of initiatives, including filmed provocations from performers around the world.

Shared Library – a table of inspiring books that attenders have brought with them to share with others. Please bring your favourite inspirational book that relates to performance inspiring social change.

On Friday we will look at the roles and responsibilities of the physical performance schools, larger companies and institutions, with regards to activism, ethics and well-being. There will be a panel discussion with representation from National Centre of Circus Arts, No Fit State Circus and others, chaired by Orit Azaz – Circus and Theatre Director.

Saturday 16th February 10am to 6pm

Saturday Speakers:

Darren O’Donnell is an urban cultural planner, novelist, essayist, playwright, filmmaker, performance director and the Artistic and Founding Director of Mammalian Diving Reflex. He holds a BFA in theatre and a M.Sc. in urban planning from the University of Toronto and studied traditional Chinese Medicine at the Shiatsu School of Canada. His books include: Your Secrets Sleep with Me (2004), a novel about difference, love and the miraculous, Social Acupuncture (2006), which argues for aesthetics of civic engagement, and Haircuts by Children and Other Evidence for a New Social Contract (2018), which proposes the cultural sector as a site to pilot a new social contract with children.  His performance works include Haircuts by Children, All the Sex I’ve Ever Had, The Children’s Choice Awards and Teentalitarianism. As an urban cultural planning his focus is on participation and, in particular, the radical engagement of children and young people at the core of cultural institutions. 

Darren will present a filmed talk to the Symposium and then be linked in via virtual technology from Melbourne, for questions.

Robin Peters will present ‘Good money, bad money: conversation and provocation on ethics and fundraising as an individual’ which will then move into a breakaway workshop/discussion.
BRobin is a fundraiser from Bristol. He works a lot with independent artists and small companies, helping them change their approach to raising money. He is Development Manager at Circomedia and South West Regional Coordinator for the Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy Programme. 

Mish Weaver, Artistic Director of Stumble danceCircus and the brains behind the Serious Circus Symposium will talk about the use of voice and text within physical performance practice. ‘When Circus speaks what does it say?’ will consider the messages and research involved in communicating issues, the writing of text, the creative potential of getting physical performers to speak and the potential effects.

Mish has been working in circus for 25 years and has directed, choreographed or designed a myriad of performances.  She focusses on meaningful circus performance – developing projects around Climate Change Psychology and investigating authentic and broad forms of engagement.

Mish currently teaches at NCCA and is carrying out research for The Conservatoire of Dance and Drama into the use of voice in Circus.

With the Symposium, Mish is responding to a need to use her skills more usefully within society and towards prosocial engagement.  As a participant on the first Creative Climate Leadership Course in 2017, Mish learnt about organising and inspiring people to make braver thematic and performance choices and identified a need for better research in issue-based work.
Having made her first show about Climate Change in 1998, Mish believes that issue-based work is of little efficacy in changing behaviours or reaching outside of the bubble. With the first symposium – in Sept 2017 – it emerged that there is a need to encourage and help funders and promoters to support artists to make these braver choices.  Finally, it became clear that Circus must learn from outside of its own industry and look towards the leaders in social engagement and socially conscientious projects, in order to take a convincing role in engaging people in political, economic and social issues.

On Saturday we will focus on the actual making of work, the potential effects of physical performance and creative possibilities of engagement. We expect Symposium Attenders will reflect good representation from the circus, dance and physical theatre makers to make the conversations rich and informed.

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