Meet Will Flanagan who spent his residency training in Tight Wire with mentor Tony Mahon.
One of Circus Factory’s aim is to provide a training and development space for artists; this is done by daily use of our training facility and through the Circus Factory Residency Programmes: Factory Bites and Factory Days. Let’s meet the artists who were awarded a residency with Circus Factory Cork in 2022.
Hi Will, tell us about yourself generally?
I’m a Circus & Street theatre performer based in Clonakilty, Co. Cork. I’m originally from Dublin and moved to Cork for 6 months 15 yrs ago to study Permaculture in Kinsale. While here I began training and working with Cork Circus & within two yrs, thanks predominantly to them, I had quit my job & become a full-time performer. I originally trained as a Juggler before branching out into a range of Circus skills – Unicycle, Stilt Walking, Balancing, Tight Wire, Clown, etc. I’ve subsequently trained in Physical Theatre in Austria & Russia and recently completed an MA in Theatre & Performative practices.
Can you tell us about your work?
I run a performance co. called Alchemy Arts. With Alchemy there two sides to the work – Contemporary Circus & Street Theatre co. The Street Theatre aspect is the weekly circus skills-based performance work, providing skilled entertainment to festivals and events, mostly throughout Ireland. The Contemporary Circus side is more long-term, project-based work. This work aims to have a more interdisciplinary approach, incorporating elements of dance, physical theatre, storyline, script and dialogue with circus skills in order to tell a story, develop a character or embody an idea/emotion. Unlike street theatre it is usually presented in a controlled setting – i.e. made indoors, site-specific or film based. Unlike traditional circus or street theatre, where a circus skill is to the fore – i.e. a scene is often framed around presenting a certain skill; this approach has more to do with character or story and will involve a circus skill if it enhances a scene or informs a character. It also looks at circus skills in a broader way, as a form of object manipulation and so tries to use those skill sets with every day, found or made items rather than using traditional circus props. In this way using the circus approach to an object, space, or scene is a way of enhancing the main story or character rather than the being the story itself.
Which residency were you awarded? Can you share with us what you did / intend on doing with the award?
I was awarded the Factory Bites residency to train in Tight Wire with mentor Tony Mahon.
Tony Mahon is a professional tight-wire performer, acrobat, theatrical circus rigger, and instructor. He trained in the Escola de Circ Rogelio Rivel in Barcelona and is a Level One coach with Gymnastics Ireland. He is a member of the Association of Irish Stage Technicians and is currently the Artistic Director of Acrophobia, a Contemporary Circus company based in Dublin. Tony was an integral part of the Lifelines project, Galway Circus’ recent record-breaking Tight Wire spectacle in Galway as part of the Arts Festival.
My intention was to develop an understanding of the technical proficiency levels in tight wire walking, to learn the fundamental techniques and training programmes involved in the skill, and to explore the potential for performance and expression.
What is the goal of the residency? Is there a show you would like to develop / a professional goal you’re working towards?
My intention was that this would act as a strong foundation for development in tight wire, that the week would provide me with the necessary techniques and training needed to develop the skill. I then hope to develop this as part of a new street theatre show, to work with a number of other Circus companies, exploring the possibilities of developing a project together and to incorporate it into the theatrical work with Alchemy.
The support of the Circus Factory has been a vital part of my development and their dedication to the development of Circus in Ireland is of huge importance and greatly appreciated.