Casting off, shows how experience, knowledge, capability and endurance combine to produce priceless examples of trust, confidence and self-belief.
Casting Off is an acrobatic show performed by three generations of women circus performers. The show pushes the boundaries of a genre that is evolving dramatically.
The title of the show suggests several things. For acrobats, it refers to a specific aerial circus skill. For us earthbound mortals, the audience, it’s a call to new beginnings and adventures.
For our performers, it refers to casting-off the self-limiting assumptions that come with age and gender, while suggesting the sources of know-how and wisdom.
Through the show, the troupe play out various life challenges as a series of physical castings off—in the knitting sense. Through a series of loops, twists and turns, they describe how they have expanded and protected their thoughtfully constructed lives. Casting off, in this instance, refers to what they have done to hold back the forces that seek to unpick their lives from behind.
Unsurprisingly, the performers’ stage personas are Knit, Slip, and Pearl. Their crocheted costumes are a decidedly domesticated—almost “anti-glamour” statements. They could have originated a communal knitting circle...an analogy for a secure space where any number of pearls can be safely dropped.
Unusual for a contemporary circus, Casting Off has no high-beat soundtrack or strong narrative arc. The performers construct a soundscape of verbal patter. It consists of statements you might have heard as the performers—clearly friends, colleagues, and confidants—developed the show away from our ears. The audience is taken into their very personal, vulnerable and authentic world of circus-craft.
The performers share their self-doubts, understandings, and advice. At times they appear to verbalised the sort of self-talk, that for many performers, must chatter away in the background when they are performing on stage.
A show devised within more “muscular and fearless” constructs would't dare “give the game away” so readily. And, as an all-women troupe, they don’t have to default to the role of foil for the manly acts and heroic feats of more traditional circus.
These are hyper-real women, able to humorously weave in deliberate and unexpected mistakes... telling us along the way, we don’t have to be perfect all the time.
These are three women, "doing the best they can"—balancing muti-layerd lives, as they answer the thrilling call to the circus. The context they give us, adds another level of awe and respect to their undoubted daring, skilfulness and dexterity.
Casting off shows that extraordinary things can be achieved when experience, knowledge, capability, and endurance combine to realise the priceless experiences of trust, confidence and self-belief.