HK Magazine Archive

Circa Director Yaron Lifschitz Brings "Opus" to Hong Kong

He talks about the show, his inspirations and how it’s different from anything you’ve seen before.

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 March, 2016, 4:27pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 4:59pm

How did you come up with the concept of Opus? 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.

The setting of Opus is quite different from traditional circus performances: Why is that? 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.

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

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

How did you start in directing circus productions? 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 and 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.

What are your inspirations? I was influenced by 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.

Why would you choose to combine the circus performance with music of Dmitri Shostakovich? Also, why is the Debussy String Quartet blindfolded when playing the music? 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.

What message do you want to bring to the audience with the performance? My shows do not have messages—the audience is free to take from them whatever they choose.

Check out details for “Opus” here.