TILT Festival 2021 revives UK circus

TILT, Birmingham’s only Aerial and Physical Theatre Festival, returns for its sixth year of twelve days of world class performances, masterclasses and workshops.

TILT Festival 2021 revives UK circus

TILT is one of the largest festivals of its kind outside London, and is renowned for attracting some of the world's most talented artists from the UK as well as internationally. From 12 to 23 July 2021 the hybrid festival will showcase high quality performers and breath-taking aerial and physical theatre that is rooted in interesting stories. 

RougePlay, Birmingham's leading Physical theatre company, run by Kim Wildborne and co director Lorna Meehan, is based at the West Midlands Circus and Creation Center in Digbeth, which is the central breeding ground for the second city's historic creative quarter.

The makings of TILT

We spoke to Lorna Meehan, co-creative director of RougePlay to see how this project first formed. She said: “I’ve been doing performance for about 20 years now but it all changed after my degree when I met Kim Wildborne at an art and education workshop that was [otherwise] not helpful! She had this idea to integrate physical theatre, education and storytelling and I jumped at the opportunity.”

Kim Wildborne knew that this was her next step after creating her first company Kiss My Face theatre. 

“I knew after I finished university that I wanted to go down the concept of making physical theatre which is making stories by movements and using your body. I wanted to create something that was beyond normal circus and create a festival with meaning – then came TILT.”

From that initial connection they both wanted more, and as Kim Wildborne found her love for aerial performance there was a natural progression to what they do now at TILT Festival. Meehan continued, “Together we found our niche merging a poetic spoken word narrative with physical theatre and circus – it almost became our own language”. 

I could see this language throughout the rehearsal as there was a clear story beyond what they wrote on paper, combining the climate crisis, female power and the need for adventure regardless of age, ethnicity or class to form a performance that was relatable to all.

“We realised quite early that we didn't want to go down the spectacle route, but more about telling the story first and integrating circus beyond the tricks,'' explained Meehan, “focusing on creating that high-quality performance but cementing the importance of ‘why?’”

“We found what works for us and the audience responds to it really well.”

What should you expect?

TILT 21 will showcase a variety of shows, world premiers, circus sessions and workshops for babies as young as three weeks old to adults ranging to 62 years old. Members of the public are also invited to an afternoon of free outdoor shows for all the family. The afternoon features RoguePlay’s acclaimed take on Jules Verne’s classic tale Around the World in 80 Days – A colorful acrobatic adventure, with a tactile circus twist which sensitively introduces younger audiences to the issues of climate change.

Following the performance, audience members can give in to their curiosity and join the cast to play on the big-rig aerial playground. People of all ages and abilities can try aerial hoop, hammock, and skills on the ladder, with hula hoops, juggling and toys for little ones.








Around The World in 80 Days

TILT 21 also has an all-female cast including: Lindsey Davis (Bird), Elizabeth Wickham (Tribe’s Women) and Gemma Bond (Monkey/Tiger), joining the creative directors Kim Wildborne (Passerpout) and Lorna Meehan (Philli Fog). 

Their modern take on Around the World in Eighty Days is built on relatable characters that should inspire change after watching the show. Cast member Elizabeth Wickham explained this further saying “as a new mom I relate so much to the Tribes Woman's character, juggling everything but still getting the job done”.  e85afe48975295f581b44464755b74f07c01adc6.png

3am Waitress - image from previous TILT Festival

“There are a lot of parallels within the world that relate to what's happening within this performance and having an all female cast has made the show more modern, creating space for us as artists to take the good things from old stories whilst updating them using women from all walks of life.”

Get involved b35e6f7cf69054ad51f4237ae2665b18a5f15cbf.jpg

TILT 21, with its colour, suspense and stories, is the best place to be this summer, and if you are into creative performance, it is an amazing way to see firsthand what a new age circus looks like.

To encourage performers, Meehan said: “I think the biggest thing starting as a performer is to go up against the notion that the arts don't matter. It’s systematically untrue, as the arts are more integral than they have ever been because, after the year we have had, there is a need for performance and we will adapt regardless of the circumstances.”

“It’s also not about just being the center of a show. It takes a village to create an art and you need to be ready to muck in and be a part of every aspect – from stage production to hospitality or marketing.”

“When you work in the arts and performance you really have to work because you enjoy it,” Elizabeth Wickham explained, referring to the COVID restraints and the pressure it has had on performers. 

Her love for the arts far surpassed the challenges it brought  stating “in the arts it  isn't all jazz hands and awards, but long hours and inconsistent work; when you remember the back catalog of shows you have been apart of, the wonder, ore and splendor they produced regardless of your current climate it propels you to go for it again” Wickham said.

So head down to Digbeth and immerse yourself in this new experience beyond traditional circus. TILT have formed their own lane and have created a show to help inspire and educate.

For more information click here


De-Mornae Clarke

De-Mornae Clarke Kickstart Team

De-mornae is a Kickstart Journalist for Voice. Music, interviews and pop culture are her preferred topics of interest but is often pushing her own creative boundaries to prove that anyone can have an opinion regardless of their background, education or class.

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