HK Magazine - - CULTURE -

HK Magazine: How did you come up with the con­cept of Opus, where you per­form along­side the De­bussy String Quar­tet?

Yaron Lif­s­chitz: Like all our cre­ations, Opus has no story. It is based on a se­ries of ex­treme hu­man states. The dra­maturgy of Opus fol­lows the three and a half string quar­tets of Shostakovich that make up its score.

Aus­tralian cir­cus group Circa is com­ing to Hong Kong to present their nail-bit­ing mas­ter­piece “Opus.” Xavier Ng talks to their artis­tic direc­tor Yaron Lif­s­chitz about the show, his in­spi­ra­tions and how it’s dif­fer­ent from any­thing you’ve seen be­fore.

HK: The set­ting of Opus is very dif­fer­ent from tra­di­tional cir­cus per­for­mances: why is that?

YL: Be­cause we are not a nor­mal cir­cus! We are a con­tem­po­rary cir­cus and we do dif­fi­cult, strange and un­usual things not only with our bod­ies but also with the art form.

HK: How did you start di­rect­ing cir­cus pro­duc­tions?

YL: Well, I got bit­ten by the the­ater bug. I loved the ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing in the the­ater and see­ing work on stage. But I failed mis­er­ably as a the­ater direc­tor. I just didn’t re­ally like sto­ries and act­ing very much. The thing that ap­pealed to me was the ex­cite­ment, the im­me­di­acy and the pres­ence of what hap­pens in the­ater, and that seemed to be cap­tured best by the cir­cus. I don’t think I evolved. I just made mis­takes, tried to learn from them and then made more.

HK: What’s the dif­fer­ence be­tween di­rect­ing a cir­cus per­for­mance and nor­mal the­ater?

YL: The bod­ies! It also helps hav­ing fewer, if any, words. You come to the the­ater to be un­ex­pect­edly moved and con­nected with bod­ies that some­how sur­pass their vir­tu­os­ity and hit some kind of artery of emo­tion. The ideal for the cir­cus show is to make you feel emo­tions that you didn’t know, that you don’t have words for.

HK: What’s so spe­cial about Circa? How are they dif­fer­ent from other cir­cus per­form­ers?

YL: Circa’s look is very stripped back – clean lines, el­e­gant but sim­ple cos­tumes. The focus is on the body as the site of ex­pres­sive pos­si­bil­i­ties. It’s what the artists do, rather than how they look that car­ries the mean­ing and emo­tion.

HK: What are your in­spi­ra­tions?

YL: I was in­flu­enced by [chore­og­ra­pher] Wil­liam Forsythe’s writ­ings about bal­let—rather than the works them­selves, which I hadn’t seen yet, Pina Bausch of course, but also jazz mu­sic, Richard Serra, Der­rida and the philoso­phers—not as phi­los­o­phy as such, but more as ways of think­ing... plus life.

HK: Why com­bine the cir­cus per­for­mance with mu­sic of Shostakovich? And why blind­fold the mu­si­cians?

YL: It is in­cred­i­bly great mu­sic that moves me pro­foundly. The phys­i­cal move­ments and the mu­sic match in a com­plex va­ri­ety of ways. The pieces were writ­ten at time of great op­pres­sion un­der Stalin. The blind­folds re­fer to the chal­lenges of this pe­riod in­clud­ing the vast num­ber of ex­e­cu­tions that oc­curred.

HK: What mes­sage do you want to bring to the au­di­ence with the per­for­mance?

YL: My shows do not have mes­sages—the au­di­ence is free to take from them what­ever they choose.

Check out “Opus,” Mar 11-12 at 7:30pm, Mar 13 at 2:30pm. Grand The­ater, Cul­tural Cen­tre, 10 Sal­is­bury Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui. $120-380 from urbtix.hk.

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