Welcome My Son

Mar 1 2015 | By More

Circus skills as theatre for Frankenstein tale

When Phil Hardie injured his ankle in January, it put paid to the Spotted Stripes Circus performance of his new show Welcome my Son at Manipulate, but this week the circus specialist is premiering the show in Summerhall.

Hardie is one of new wave of performers who are bringing their circus skills to the theatre stage. They are breaking the conventions of genre and creating narrative performances which exist somewhere between dance and pure theatre.

Phil Hardie performing as Spotted Stripes Circus. Photo: Stuart Cant

Phil Hardie performing as Spotted Stripes Circus. Photo: Stuart Cant

The ankle injury was a blow to Hardie, who has spent four months developing the show, from a concept he first staged as a short performance in 2013.

“I’m happy to say that the ankle is feeling good,” Hardie told Æ, “and I certainly hope ready for the full version which runs to about 55 minutes.”

The solo piece takes Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein story as a framework and uses circus acrobatics, physical theatre and spoken word to explore the human condition and themes of social conformity, isolation, prejudice and abandonment.

Hardie says: “I love the Frankenstein story for the great depth of its content and commentaries and the fact that 200 years after its creation these are still incredibly relevant to contemporary culture. Science, technology and mankind’s ability to manipulate natures laws – and the ethical questions this throws up – are still vital current debates.

“It is, however, the tragic story of isolation, abandonment and betrayal that has most inspired the development of my piece. The human story.

social acceptance

“In a world where technology has made communication so ‘easy’ and the media has such massive influence on our perceptions and judgement, social acceptance – or the lack thereof- has, I believe, an ever greater ability to make or break us all. Does media bombardment and social media bring us closer together or actually isolate us further and too what result?”

While it is answers to these questions which Hardie will be exploring, it is through his skills as a circus performer that he will be telling the tale.

“I have been involved in circus entertainment for many years,” he said. “I love it for its physical prowess and how this can inspire. However I have long harboured the belief that circus has the ability to effectively tell great stories which can also move audiences the way theatre can.

“This show is my attempt to do just this and present circus in a context far removed from the very light hearted, family entertainment it traditionally fulfils.

“It is still a physically driven piece but I hope the physicality of my performance is what forms the creation of clear character and narrative opposed to being impressive but disparate set pieces.”

If this is the first time that audiences will have witnessed a show by the Spotted Stripes Circus, Hardie is hardly new to the game. it is just the name he has given the company he hopes to continue creating circus shows for theatre under.

Hardie says: “My wife and I have used circus for our improvised entertainment for events and festivals for many years, under the names Flambeau and Gazelle. With the move to creating rehearsed shows for the stage I wanted to have a clearer identity. Welcome my Son is the first adventure in this new context.”


Welcome My Son
Summerhall, Demonstration Room, 1 Summerhall EH9 1PL
Sunday 1 March 2015, 7.30pm.
Tickets £10.
Details: http://www.summerhall.co.uk/2015/welcome-my-son/
Spotted Stripes Circus facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/spottedstripescircus


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