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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

BAM Blog Questionnaire: Nathan Boyle of Circa

Nathan Boyle
Australian troupe Circa makes its BAM debut next week with Opus, a jaw-dropping combination of physical feats accompanied by live music by the Debussy String Quartet. Performer Nathan Boyle spoke with us about the piece, its challenges, and more.

How did you get involved with Circa? What is your experience in physical theater?

I saw CIRCA, one of Circa's shows at the Sydney Opera House in 2008. I didn't know what to expect; I knew it was contemporary circus and that was it. After watching that show, I immediately thought "I will work for this company one day." After finishing my Bachelor in Circus Arts in 2010 at NICA (the National Institute of Circus Arts), I was immediately hired by Circa and have been with the company ever since.

How is Opus different from what you’ve done in the past? What can the audience expect to see from you during the performance?

Firstly, the music is live. We have the amazing Debussy String Quartet accompanying us throughout the entire show. This is the first time I wasn't performing to recorded music, so it took a while for me and the other performers to adapt to the slight changes in tempo from night to night as it’s performed live. It’s organic and varies slightly on how the musicians play on the night. The audience can expect to see an absolute fusion of acrobatics and classical music. The quartet isn't just shoved to the back of the stage—they move throughout us, sometimes blindfolded, sometimes with assisted acrobatic lifts, all while continuing to play the music from memory. You have to see it to believe it!

How collaborative was the process of making Opus with the musicians?

We had about three weeks of development with the quartet spread out over a year or so; before that, we had a six-week block with them in Lyon where the show premiered in 2013. They would play the music; we would try things, see what worked, what didn't, and basically built the show from there. The music says a lot, so we have tried to physicalize the music.

How do you warm up before a performance?

Before each performance we come in three hours before the doors open. We will generally spend an hour warming up and stretching before we move into working on tricks from the show. The show is broken down into static, dynamic, and solo and duo tricks, and we go through those to warm up.

During your free time, what are you most excited to see in Brooklyn?

I have never been to Brooklyn before so I am really looking forward to walking the streets, taking in the sights and hopefully finding an awesome cafe or coffee house to sit in and people-watch.

Opus runs Nov 4—8 in the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House.

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