Following its smash hit success at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 and as seen on ITV’s Royal Variety Performance, Circus Abyssinia makes its London premiere at Underbelly Festival for six weeks. As circus marks its 250th anniversary this year, Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams is a jubilant celebration of circus that will mesmerise audiences of all ages through the sheer infectious energy and spirit which fly from its cast.
Written by Cal McCrystal, Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams is a joyful mix of astonishing stunts, astounding circus skills and enchanting adventure. The show dramatises in surreal, often comic and generally wordless ways, the magical true tale of two Ethiopian brothers, Bibi and Bichu who dreamed as little boys of joining the circus, and stages the journey of how their dream came true. Performed from the perspective of the young brothers, through the universal language of circus, the show mixes autobiographical and fictional narratives to tell how the Bibi and Bichu became world-class jugglers.
Underbelly Festival audiences will be immersed into a world of daredevil wonders as they encounter a host of other circus dreamers: dancing, contorting, gravity-defying figures, all weaving tales of their own. The irreproducible Circus Abyssinia Troupe, a team of dazzling and prodigiously talented acrobats from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, whose reputation for bold and vertiginous acrobatic displays are both awe-inspiring and heart-stopping to watch.
The multi-talented and incredibly versatile Circus Abyssinia Troupe celebrate the birth of a new Ethiopian tradition through a breath-taking range of circus skills including; human juggling, hand-vaulting, contortion, cloth spinning, Cyr Wheel, clowning and the astonishing eight strong double Chinese Pole act. Fusing theatrical storytelling with astonishing stunts, the show combines the arts and innovations of contemporary circus with Ethiopia’s artistic heritage to create one of the world’s first full-blown Ethiopian circuses. Surrealist and joy-driven, accompanied by a soundscape that draws on Ethiopia’s rich musical past and present, Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams is a transformative celebration of circus itself.
From humble beginnings, Bibi and Bichu learnt their skills at a young age busking and tumbling for crowds in the city streets of Jimma, working tirelessly to master their craft and realise their dreams of joining the circus. Now world-renowned jugglers they have performed in thousands of shows in countries all over the world ranging from Japan to Germany. Bibi and Bichu discovered the incredible Circus Abyssinia Troupe acrobats at Circus Wingate, a circus school they have sponsored since 2010 as part of their ongoing commitment to support the development of Ethiopian circus in an effort to repay the kindness they received from other artists in their own careers. The troupe’s burgeoning circus careers have changed their lives and the lives of their families for the better in very real, significant ways: most were living in poverty until 2015.
The brothers who now reside in the UK were also resident jugglers at the acclaimed Giffords Circus from 2002 – 2016, touring for 11 seasons throughout the south of England. It was during their time with Giffords, performing as part of Moon Songs in 2015 alongside renowned stage and screen director Cal McCrystal, that the brothers found their inspiration for Circus Abyssinia. The new show unfolds with a dreamlike sense inspired by the 2015 production but the driving force behind the performance is the transformative magic of circus itself, and all its acts play with the possibility that such magic and energy are forces that can be mastered.
Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams is a surreal retelling of how the cast dreamed of the circus in a country without one and created a phenomenal new Ethiopian tradition. The show is an unmissable event for children and adults who will love the extraordinary physical feats of strength, dexterity and fluid grace, and the reminder that, when we work together and fight for them, dreams are for there for the taking.