After successful runs at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe and on a UK tour, Ellie DuBois brings her show No Show to the Soho Theatre for a limited engagement. No Show puts female circus performers at the forefront and offers the audience a glance behind the smiles and performance to see the competition and the price of perfection. I managed to grab a few moments of Ellie’s time to find out more about the show.
HS: What is No Show about and what can audiences expect from the show?
ED: No Show is a contemporary circus show exploring the expectations that we place on female circus performer on stage and in life. We expect female circus performers to be sexy and flexible but often not a whole lot more is asked of them. Myself and the cast wanted to make a show that pushed them to their limits on stage and allowed them to make full use of all of their skills – not just their pretty smiles.
The show has hair hanging, acrobatics, cyr wheel, contortion and handstands performed by the most extraordinary five women. It is made to be a joyful and thoughtful serving of our hearts to the audience.
HS:How has the show evolved since the tour across the UK and the run at the Edinburgh Fringe?
ED:When we made the show in 2016, it was pre #MeToo and #TimesUp. And the show feels like it is seen in the context of a different world to the one in which we made it. However, the world and industry are not catching up fast enough and in light of these moments, the show feels even more important than ever.
HS: The play is about attempts and failures of circus performers. Having created circus performance art for many years, how much of No Showwas influenced by your experiences?
ED: All of my shows come from me or from something that I feel is interesting/important in my life and I hope is universal. I often found myself setting myself impossible standards, whether that is as a circus performer, a mother or even just about my expectation of what I would get done in a day.
Striving for an impossible, unachievable perfection is one of the most interesting things to me. And yet we still try but what effect does that have on our physical and mental health? And whose idea of perfection are we aiming for in the first place? These are all things that started the making of the show.
HS:How difficult was it to find the performers for the show?
ED: Honestly this was the first show I had even cast or received funding to make and I was terrified, so I wanted to work with my friends. People that I trusted and that I knew I could make an amazing show with. Women are unrepresented in circus on almost every level and it felt so exciting to be able to offer interesting work to five female circus performers. A few years on, I know understand a bit more about how much power you have when you are casting and that I get to choose which stories get told on stage. In future work I try and be more thoughtful about who is represented and being given a voice.
HS: What advice would you give to aspiring circus performers?
ED: See as much work as you can by as many different artists and from different genres. It’s important that we cross pollinate our ideas and our skills from as many other places as possible.
Huge thanks to Ellie for taking the time to answer my questions! No Show runs at the Soho Theatre from 22nd January to 9th February. For tickets and more information on No Show, please visit https://sohotheatre.com/shows/no-show/
Until next time,