Tina Koch, Co-artistic director of Ockham’s Razor and director of Belly of the Whale, talks about Ockham’s Razors upcoming performance of Belly of the Whale in Worthing as part of the Summer of Circus.
Where did the idea and inspiration for Belly of the Whale come from?
For each Ockham’s Razor show we design a piece of circus equipment that acts as a catalyst for creation. For Belly of the Whale we built a giant 800kg seesaw of wood and steel. When we put it together for the first time it immediately had a presence in the room. The metal groaned and the wood creaked and the performers seemed tiny and vulnerable inside. It lay there in the space like a piece of something even bigger. One of us said: ‘like the rib of a giant blue whale washed up by the sea’ and the idea for the show was born. As creators we were fascinated by the image of the ‘Belly of the Whale’ that is found in mythology around the world, most famously Pinocchio and Jonah. This image of being swallowed up by something bigger than ourselves, something beyond our control and quite literally loosing the ground beneath our feet.
What do you think is different about Ockham’s Razor?
With each show we are reinventing and reinterpreting what circus theatre can be. We design new pieces of circus equipment or reinterpret existing apparatus continuously pushing the boundaries of what can be done. Our shows are extremely physical and reach out to our audiences beyond words. We make work that draws on the human and the real, where the characters go through recognisable experiences, emotions and conflicts which the audience can relate to. Our shows are exciting and moving and we are proud to say that once people have come to see one of our shows they usually come back for more.
How is Belly of the Whale different from other Ockham’s Razor shows?
Belly of the Whale is our first show specifically designed for the outdoors. We have designed the set to work as a sculpture in its own right which will be on display in between shows. What is new is also the ambitious design. The structure has a hidden mechanism inside that means it can transform – you will have to come and see for yourselves – it’s mechanical engineering at its finest and the most ambitious piece of apparatus we have made to date.
What is the most memorable moment you’ve had while performing?
It was performing ‘Something in the Air’ a show for children with multiple and profound learning disabilities we created in collaboration with Oily Cart. One of our audience was a young boy who apparently mostly looked on the floor and never engaged with anything. The carers said it was unclear how much he was aware of anything happening around him. He had no speech. Half way through the show the boy suddenly looked up with a big smile on his face and started to hum along to the music and said – “more”.
Have you ever performed in Worthing before?
Yes we have. We took our ‘Triple Bill’ to Worthing theatres in September 2016 and returned with ‘Tipping Point’ in July 2017.
I have to admit we have a soft spot for seaside towns and are really looking forward to our fish & chips.
What do you enjoy most about running interactive workshops?
We love giving our audiences the opportunity to try something they have never done before. My favourite part is to witness people step out of their comfort zone and surprise themselves doing things they did not think they were capable of before. You don’t have to be an athlete to try, we truly make our workshops accessible to everyone.
Ockham’s Razor will give two free performances of Belly of the Whale on Saturday 8 June at 11am and 3pm, as part of Worthing Theatres free family fun day to celebrate the launch of the Summer of Circus. There will also be two Belly of the Whale workshops on Saturday 8 June at 11:45am and 3:45pm, with tickets available for £5. Booking is recommended for both the shows and workshops, tickets are available from the Worthing Theatres Box Office on 01903 206 206 and online at worthingtheatres.co.uk.