A short presentation of Jonathan Priest's research project Knot Circus as a PhD Candidate at DOCH.
How can you “speak” circus?
Is it possible to derive a methodology or plan for uttering a ‘circus trick’ that uses as its template the extreme physicality of circus practice?
Is it possible to choreograph the tongue around language and its limitations in the same way it is possible to choreograph the body around a piece of circus apparatus and the attendant gravity?
If you were reduced to just a capacity for utterance, such as Beckett’s mouth in “Not I”, what could you still perform physically?
This is perhaps a way of leaving the body to get back to the body, a kind of loop or knot. A choreography of the tongue.
This research started as a piece entitled “Knot Circus” which deals with the analogy between psychotic word-play and circus object-play. As the rope folds and knots back on itself so the tongue does also. I am concerned with the voice that is created from following circus practice and the kind of persona created by this utterance. This is to further explore the implications of ‘voice work’ in the discipline of circus and to discover who is doing the talking, and what kind of theoretical position it might be possible for the circus artist to occupy.
I intend to investigate circus’s capacity to misspell and mispronounce its techniques into new territories, its capacity for defiance in the face of not just physical but theoretical gravity, and its capacity for mobility and temporary autonomy through that mobility across a surface, all as templates for utterance.
By attempting to “speak” circus in this way I hope to discover not just its similarities to other forms but also its differences and, through this practice-based research, to let the tongue be the practice of circus and “voice versa”.
About Jonathan Priest. Priest has been a performer for the last 30 years and a circus artist for the last 18. He has performed all over the world and in all manner of styles and situations; in traditional theatre, in stand-up, in cabaret and street theatre as well as the many permutations of the circus form. He has his own circus company Fanatticks, based here in Stockholm with co-artist Anja Duchko-Zuber. He is has been teaching for the last 12 years and is currently teaching part-time here at DOCH in Stockholm and in the UK.