“Entering another world”: Lost in Translation’s Massimiliano Rossetti on the circus
To celebrate their ten-year anniversary, internationally acclaimed contemporary circus company Lost in Translation will be pitching their tent for an exciting summer of circus, family-friendly entertainment, spoken work and more. And that’s not all – they are also inviting guest performers from international companies to dazzle audiences with their wit, joy and irreverence. Interludes will run in Norwich from 14th July to 30th August, before heading to the London fringe scene to Wandsworth, Underbelly and more. We caught up with Massimiliano Rossetti, company director and performer, to get the full details.
How would you describe Interlude in the Close and Circus Lates?
In 2020 Interlude was the response of two cultural organisations, Norwich Theatre and Lost in Translation Circus, who came together to create the possibility for live performance to happen. We wanted to make sure culture and the arts were still alive in Norwich, even under the difficult circumstances created by the pandemic, and to create something positive but safe.
Lots of other cultural and local organisations were involved in making it happen or being part of it, and it really brought the city together in many ways. There are different organisations involved this year, most notably Norwich Cathedral, but it is created in the same spirit of partnership and with the wish to make something positive happen for the city and for the arts. Interlude 2020 had such a positive impact on artists, audiences and organisations that we wanted to build on it in the hope that something fantastic can grow and continue out of the challenges of the pandemic. We can continue to work with Norwich Theatre to offer a Covid-secure venue in these continuing challenging times.
Circus Lates is our own cabaret for adult audiences, which flourished as a result of the needs of Interlude 2020. It used local and some non-local artists to put together a fantastically fun late-night jaunt. This year we are joining forces with Jacksons Lane Theatre (London) to try something new, so watch this space. The performances at Interlude will be the start of an exciting collaboration, which will be on tour nationally for 2021-2022.
How do you think your company has changed over the past ten years?
In many ways it has changed hugely. We started out as two artists with big dreams, trying to create a group of people and a show. It was a huge challenge making that first step happen, and we had several attempts before it took off into our first proper tour. We had a lot of help, support and advice from a lot of people and organisations in those early days, without which none of it would have been possible, and some of whom we still work with or collaborate with regularly.
We now have two tents, five different shows on tour, and have expanded our core artistic team. We also founded The Oak Circus Centre, where we train and rehearse, which is now a separate company delivering education, engagement and artistic space. We have ten years of adventures, challenges and experience under our belts. I think one of the things now is that at the beginning we were feeling our way along without having a clue of what we were doing, and asking advice and support of those more experienced around us. We still do that, as there is always more to learn, but now we are also able to share our experience with those who are coming up or looking to start something of their own, which is a nice feeling. I think we are also more settled, mature and understanding in our artistic voice and process. Each time we create we have this backlog of experiences to build on, which means we are able to create richer, more nuanced work – though, of course, each creation process is unique with its own challenges.
Unfortunately one change that has happened recently out of necessity is that the company is less international than it used to be. When we started out, almost every single artist was from a different country, culture or background, and that was part of the culture of the company. The combination of Brexit and Covid has made maintaining the ethos impossible, though it’s something we aim to work our way back to when we can.
Are there any general or specific themes that these shows will be exploring?
Interlude itself is programmed by Norwich Theatre and there isn’t a particular theme in the programming, but the event itself still has the underlying drive to help our sector come through this challenging period. Our small section in Interlude (which we are programming ourselves) is of course circus-themed, with a combination of shows for families and adults. In Circus Lates we are exploring working with new artists from different backgrounds, but I can’t say more than that at this stage!
What can we expect from the comedy and family-friendly activities? Any exciting faces to watch out for?
From the circus side, Strong Women Science is a fun and educational family-friendly show on from 25th to 30th August. On the broader programming, the musical The Wind in the Willows is opening the programme as a great option for families this week. Rich Hall is also coming up this month and The Voix is returning after the success of last year.
How does the venue influence the performance?
A tent really does create a different atmosphere, so therefore a different experience. The world is much more present, but so is the rest of the audience, and you have this sense of entering another world. The fact that it is a temporary structure also creates a kind of magic world that appears and disappears – it’s that bit more special!
What do you hope these shows achieve?
We aim to provide a positive, uplifting or moving experience to audiences of all ages. A great night out, a wonderful family day, or just add a bit of interest or distraction from all the stress and difficulties that so many people have been or are still experiencing over this past year and half. We also hope to help Norwich feel culturally alive in this re-opening, but do it in a way that is as safe as possible, and which doesn’t contribute to rising cases. We want to be part of keeping the arts and culture alive and providing a space for a wide variety of artists and companies to perform and interact live with audiences.
Can you tell us a bit about the costumes? What can we expect to see?
In terms of our own show, thats still a secret! In term of the general programming of the tent, there is such a wide range of shows you will see every range of costumes from extremely simple to complex, colourful and wonderful.
What is your favourite thing about circus, and are you excited for people to be able to experience this show live?
I have many favourite things about circus: the realness of it, the excitement, the wonderful people, the down to earth and hands on approach, the internationalism, and the sense of a unique world. I think if I were thinking about it as an audience member, rather than a performer or director, I would say the way that it celebrates the possibilities of the human body, what it can achieve, and how it can express something without words. As we learnt from our lockdown experiences, there isn’t anything quite like the live experience. We have now done a few live shows in London this year, and it is great to be in front of an audience, and great to be in an audience again as well. That experience of a journey as a group for that suspended time it’s just not the same digitally.
Do you think circus can be enjoyed remotely – on video, for example – or should it always be seen in person?
I would always prefer the live experience, but it definitely can be enjoyed remotely, as Cirque Du Soleil have proven for quite some time before the pandemic. We also experimented with the digital world over the last year. It does require a bit of a different approach, and there is definitely a new and interesting world to be explored there, but it is a completely different thing to an in-person experience.
What’s next for Lost in Translation?
We still have lots going on this year. Before we perform at Interlude we are performing our show Hotel Paradiso at the Underbelly Festival at Cavendish Square, then we are collaborating with The Lowry on their summer festival in our tent and performing two of our shows in Irlam in Manchester.
After Interlude we are premiering the theatrical version of our new show Above at the Norwich Theatre Royal, and then continuing our collaboration with Jacksons Lane Theatre to tour a new show, based on our collaboration at Interlude for Circus Lates. We will round up the year with A Circus Carol in Jacksons Lane’s wonderfully refurbished theatre in Archway, London.
As for next year – well at this stage we just have to see what it brings; there is so much uncertainty still. We are really hoping that international touring will be possible again, but who knows. We have lots of things cooking, will just have to see what the dish turns out to be.
For further information about Lost in Translation and future events visit here.