After being invited to collaborate with child performers in Palestine, a circus theatre troupe from Cornwall was shot at and tear-gassed by the Israeli occupation forces
Incandescence Circus Theatre Company’s artistic director, Satya Lapham, said: “Coming from Cornwall, this is definitely not a normal reality to find yourself in. To the students they did not bat an eye, as this is their daily reality.”
In April, thirteen members of Pendeen-based Incandescence traveled to Palestine to prepare a show with artists from Palestine Circus School, but the trip to five different places was canceled due to rising Israeli violence.
Cirque Farah, which translates to “Cirque of Joy,” is a collaboration between Cornish and Palestinian circus schools. “Incandescence was incredibly pleased to be invited to Palestine to create a show with the performers from the Palestine Circus School in Bizet,” Satya told CornwallLive. After that, the show was supposed to go on tour in Palestine. The circus has wowed the world, yet hardly one in Cornwall is aware of it.
“I cannot imagine what it must be like to live permanently under occupation with the most basic human rights being taken away from you. Just the thought of being prevented from swimming in the sea or moving freely through my country of birth is hard to imagine let alone adding the permanent fear of violence and aggression into the mix.”
Satya continued, “So we did our best to turn this awful situation into a positive. Turning the circus school into a theatre with whatever lights we could get our hands-on, which to be honest was not a lot. We wanted a positive to come out of it all, especially for the Palestine artists. So we did the show as many times as possible in the small circus school tent for free for Palestinian children and ran as many circus master classes for the circus schools teachers so they could then pass these skills onto the younger students. The circus big top became the sanctuary for us all.”
Incandescence is known for their magnificent larger-than-life theatrical circus events, and they’ve collaborated with Beyonce and Take That. However, few people in their native county are familiar with the Cornish firm. Satya’s childhood ambition of seeing a trapeze performer at Cornwall’s Flambards amusement park has blossomed into a very successful enterprise that pulls hundreds of thousands of pounds into the Cornish economy despite never presenting acts on home turf. an economic endeavor that would bring Palestinians joy and financial aid if done freely.
Satya said: “If you live in the Gaza Strip, you cannot get out, you are trapped and it’s the most densely populated and bombed place on the planet! I have had a Palestinian arts and social circus company from the Gaza Strip trying to get our help as they have seen on social media the work we have been doing in Palestine. But we cannot get in and they cannot get out.”
She now wants to invite the Palestinian performers who worked with Incandescence to Cornwall to experience the freedom they have. she described the Palestine Circus School saying “It is an amazing creative space run by some of the kindest compassionate people I have ever met. This gives their students a safe space amongst the daily turmoil they experience in this beautiful country. The students can show up be themselves, support each other and have a positive creative outlet. The school provides hope and opportunities for the youth. I left a piece of my heart in the circus school’s big top with them to keep safe until I return to them or they find a way back to me.”
“I want to put up a big top in Cornwall and share the joyful show we created together under the craziest conditions out here in Palestine. I want to bring them here to my hometown. I want to introduce these amazingly kind, talented, humble, resilient young artists to my beautiful Cornwall and all of the amazing people that live here. I want to introduce them to the ocean, for them to be able to swim freely in the sea. To walk on the beach, to climb, to explore our wonderful Cornwall. For them to be for a moment without fear and free.”
“I will be dreaming this into reality alongside the other UK and Palestinian artists. Anything is possible in the circus and the world at the moment needs more magic,” she added in an emotional statement after witnessing the woes kids in Palestine have gone through.