‘Soho is diverse but it’s at risk of losing its identity’

PUBLISHED: 08:00 05 May 2017

Stufish's Soho at The Peacock. Picture: Marc Morreau

Stufish's Soho at The Peacock. Picture: Marc Morreau

Mark Morreau 2016

Danny Ash and Kayla Lomas-Kirton talk about getting into the spirit of circus with Stufish’s latest production, Soho

It seems that no one can get enough of circus at the moment – not the kind with clowns or ringmasters, but with stunts that are both death and gravity defying.

The latest spectacle is Stufish’s Soho. Stufish, renowned for their “cutting edge entertainment architecture”, have designed arena productions for Lady Gaga, Queen, Pink Floyd and Robbie Williams.

Soho, directed by Abigail Yeates, is a celebration of a day in the life of the district filled with all sorts of characters played by a host of diverse performers from all over the world.

Danny Ash, a drag and boylesque artist who lives in Hackney, has his main solo moment as a drag queen and performs on stilts in stilettos. He has been practicing circus arts for three years, after discovering a love for cabaret.

He loves Soho and worries for its future in the face of development, one of the inspirations, he says, behind Yeates’ desire to focus on the area.

“It comments a bit on gentrification and the big gay scene in Soho as well, which I’m passionate to represent in the show,” says Ash. “I think it’s important. Soho is a place that’s very diverse and there are all sorts of characters. With all the new flats being built and places being shut down it’s at risk of losing its identity a bit.”

While Ash has been learning circus arts for a few years, Islington’s Kayla Lomas-Kirton is new to the discipline, and as a choreographer, is drawing as much inspiration from it as she can.

“I’m so used to being around dancers especially hip hop dancers and seeing a similar type of movement,” she says. “So to see someone on silks and what they manage to do up there – I’m constantly thinking how I can translate that to the floor. How they understand their body is completely different to how a dancer understands her body, so I’m just trying to observe and learn.”

Recommended to the creative team for her skills as a chorographer, she is bringing these skills to the circus stage.

“This company has been really good at allowing you as a performer in what ever discipline it is to be able to put your expertise in. It’s been a collaboration and I’ve very much been able to put a lot of my choreography in, which is brilliant.”

Soho comes to The Peacock from May 6 to 20 and is accompanied by music from The Sex Pistols, David Bowie, Daft Punk and Mozart.

“Circus is just so awe inspiring,” says Ash. “You can’t really comprehend what you’re seeing. Someone in front of you is climbing to ridiculous heights and doing really dangerous tricks and it seems like they’re putting their life at risk. There’s something very human about physical theatre.”

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