Dublin Circus Festival: 8-10 April, 2016

I attended the Dublin Circus Festival for the first time this year. In the weeks leading up to it they had a lot of announcements about events and Gala acts which had me really excited, but I also found out they had a limited capacity of 150 in their Gala show venue which damped my enthusiasm a bit.

I arrived late on Friday after getting the 7.15pm bus after work (the last bus), and caught just the end of the fire show. It was held in the courtyard in Trinity which was quite an impressive setting.

On Saturday myself and my companion arrived around 11am. The hall was very centrally located, though there were no sign-posts or any indication of what was going on inside. There were a great number of people I knew in attendance, so I spent the first while going around the hall chatting and catching up. People were juggling, playing games, and practicing for the first Irish Kendama Open.

However, mild tragedy struck soon after! A Galway juggler fell and we suspected they had broken their arm. Myself, another Galway juggler and two Dublin jugglers accompanied them to the nearest public hospital. I had some games with me, and the Dublin juggler who had led us left some more games with us. So we sat in the Accident and Emergency department playing games while we waited for news.

Not long after, I got a call from another convention attendee asking which hospital we were in, as they had also injured themselves, and wanted to come to the same hospital as us to play games while they waited. So it was an exceptionally merry time in the hospital for us all!

At 4:30pm we got a call telling us the hall was closing at 5pm, which was a bit disappointing. We’d been told it closed at 6pm, which already left the people who couldn’t make the Gala with nothing to do, and now we had a bit of a scramble to get back and get bags and equipment from it.

At 5pm half our injured party was sorted, with the other half nearly ready to go, so myself and my companion headed off to procure food. After this I made the twenty minute journey over to the Lir where the Gala was being held. I was very luckily one of the last five people to get a seat despite being there an hour and a quarter before show-time!

The show was quite good. The Lir is a beautiful venue, which has its own in-house staff, and great rigging and lighting set-ups. I enjoyed the show, which had a mix of local talent, Irish over from abroad, and visiting performers. Though my highlight of the weekend was actually the renegade.

We arrived at Doyle’s pub an hour early so had to wait before going downstairs. The stage area was also only about 6’3” in height, and the whole area was very cramped. But despite this it was my favourite Irish renegade I’ve ever been to (second only to the Irish renegade nights at EJC Bruneck 2015). The acts were all great, many of which even incorporated the height and size of the stage.

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After the renegade itself was a small dance party which went on until about 3am. Most people left shortly before 4am to catch the NiteLink buses.

My companion and I awoke about midday on Sunday and rushed to have breakfast and get the bus in so as not to miss the games. By some wonderful fluke we arrived the minute they were beginning.

The games had a nice mix of props, skilled and non-skilled games. I particularly appreciated the Simon-Says poi, as there is rarely a game for poi spinners. I proudly won the Rock-Paper-Scissors Worm Championship.

The all closed about 4pm, and many of us then convened in Merrion Square for more juggling, but mostly sitting, playing games and chatting. At about 5:30pm many people started to wander off shouting out what convention they’d see everyone next at.

‘Lights, Circus, Action’- the Galway Community Circus Cabaret show – 21.05.2014

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Walking into the main hall of St Joseph’s Community Centre would never be considered boring. Being perpetually rigged with aerial equipment and the weekly timetable nearly completely monopolized by the circus at this point, you’ll usually end up walking into a circus class at any time of day.

But last Wednesday was an especially good time for people wandering into the hall. The walls were decorated on opposite sides with circus’ tent walls, all seats were lined up ready-and-waiting, and a beautiful bake sale arranged.

Being best known for it’s eclectic collection of aerialists, the show unsurprisingly had a lot of trapeze acts – static, singles, doubles and triple – as well as silk and hoop. But if that wasn’t top of your wishlist to see, have no fear, because the manipulators are here! With plate spinning, hula hoop, gymnastics, juggling, and of course the grand acrobatic finale, there was something to satiate all tastes.

The unfortunate thing about circus shows is that it can be hard to fully appreciate how difficult it is to replicate what you’re seeing. Thankfully your circus-experienced reviewer is here to tell you that this show in fact had mad skills.

When you watch a circus performer, the piece you see is merely a minute glimpse into the months and years of training it’s taken to get to this point. The strength, flexibility, coordination and creativity are never gained in few days. But that’s the most impressive thing about it; they make it look easy.

I didn’t feel the time go by, as I intently watched jugglers manipulate objects or raised my gaze to the aerialists, before we came to the interval. Take your pick of sweet treats before you sit to watch the second act. Once again the time passes by without my noticing before we come to the finale. Death-defying heights were achieved in this acrobatic quintet, as two people crouch down, one person standing on either’s back, and the fifth person balanced on top. They even had a quintessential example of a simple story-line, four policemen chasing down a robber, which tied the act together.

If any mistakes were made they were revealed only by a performer’s own evident annoyance with themselves; something I trust to improve with time. Overall the evening was very enjoyable and the show was impressive, to say the least. If you can find any evening half as entertaining for just €5, I’ll eat my unicycle (no mean feat – trust me on that)!