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Gaby Munoz - Perhaps, Perhaps, Quizas (c) Gemma 0T

A Guide to the London International Mime Festival

6 January 2018 Will Rathbone

2018 marks the 41st London International Mime Festival, which sees 16 companies and artists from across the globe descend on London to perform in venues as varied as the mighty Barbican and Islington’s intimate Little Angel Theatre. Read on for London Calling’s guide to the 2018 edition.

The History of LIMF
 
Founded in 1977 by Joseph Seelig, the London International Mime Festival provides the capital with enchanting work from some of the globe’s finest theatre-makers. Over the last 40 years it has grown to represent much more than just whiteface and imaginary stair climbing. Encompassing contemporary Circus, Physical Theatre, Puppetry and Object Theatre, at LIMF anything goes - as long as there are very few words. This is Visual Theatre, which by its very nature has a universal appeal: there are no language barriers here. From its humble beginnings at London’s Cockpit Theatre, where Seelig teamed up with mime artist Nola Rae to present the Cockpit Festival of Mime and Visual Theatre, to its current international reach and a thirty-year partnership with Helen Lannaghan, Seelig’s festival has seen acclaimed companies such as Kneehigh, Complicite, Improbable and Told by an Idiot present debuts. So what should you look out for this year?
 
What to see if you want… Indian-fused juggling wizardry

Gandini Juggling have teamed up with award-winning choreographer Seeta Patel for their latest foray into gravity-defying juggling. Inspired by the South Indian Bharatanatyam dance, Sigma sees a female quartet perform against a colourful projected backdrop while accompanied by live percussion. It’s returns-only at the moment, as the Gandini’s are a hugely popular troupe, but it’s well worth trying your luck with this one.


Image credit: Gandini Juggling - Sigma © ASH
 
What to see if you want… a change of pace

Yasmine Hugonnet presents Le Récital des Postures, a performance encompassing various postures and poses inspired as much by everyday life as they are high art. The intensity of the slow transitions takes enormous control and is mesmerising to behold. One of the most rewarding pieces in this year’s festival.
 

Image credit: Yasmine Hugonnet - Recital des Postures © Anne-Laure Lechat

What to see if you want… a live action Lynchian dream

Belgian company Peeping Tom have taken director Gabriela Carrizo’s musings on motherhood and crafted a disturbing, surreal show at the Barbican. With bleeding portraits, sinister characters and a decidedly eerie feel dotted with moments of dark humour, Mother (Moeder) is sure to generate an atmosphere unlike much else you’ll see at the theatre in 2018.


Image credit: Peeping Tom - Mother (Moeder) © olegdegtiarov
 
What to see if you want… a silent movie on stage

Jakop Ahlbom Company return to LIMF with Lebensraum, inspired by Buster Keaton’s The Scarecrow and accompanied by live music from indie-rockers Alamo Race Track. Two inventors build themselves a female maid to handle their household chores before everything starts to go wrong in this genuinely astonishing physical performance from the Dutch masters of silent movie representation.
 
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Image credit: Jakop Ahlbom Company - Lebensraum © Stephan van Hesteren


What to see if you want… tightrope walking meets Jenga

Nacho Flores has taken time out from performing the highwire in various circus troupes around the world to develop a piece of his own. Tesseract is the result of three years of practice and research and sees the Madrid-born maestro perch atop hundreds of finely balanced wooden cubes.


Image credit: Nacho Flores - Tesseract © Erik Damiano
 
What to see if you want… site-specific immersive theatre

Designed specifically for the stunning Council Chamber in Shoreditch Town Hall, Between the Dog and the Wolf sees Arbonauts return to London after the critical success of their previous two experiments. A combination of installation, dance and theatre, this piece explores the fine line between hope and fear in our precarious modern society.

What to see if you want… a good old fashioned belly laugh

It’s not all serious business at LIMF, although New Zealander Trygve Wakenshaw certainly doesn’t mess about when he’s clowning around. Here he’s teamed up with fellow countryman Barnie Duncan to create Different Party, a show based on the 9-5 routine which sees the employees of Ruck’s Leather Interiors create mayhem in the office. Their stay at the Soho Theatre should prove to be very popular.


Image credit: Trygve Wakenshaw & Barnie Duncan - Different Party © Sarah Walker

The London International Mime Festival is at venues across London from 10 January - 3 February. 

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