A new city centre office suite, new vision and a new drive to clown around all over Europe... the UK City of Culture has certainly had a major impact on the outlook of lone local company - In Your Space.
With a new office officially opened on Monday at Waterloo House on Waterloo Street giving the team a city centre on-street presence, the new vision for the group will see the team working to give themselves Europe-wide appeal.
According to artistic director Nicky Harley, the team have been inspired by the City of Culture and by their new patron, international former Cirque du Soleil performer, Mooky Cornish.
Founded 13 years ago, the company was formally constituted 10 years ago, and after a humble start now has a reserve list for those wanting to sign up for some serious clowning around with core IYS performers Luke Blakely, Brent Young, Damon Cooper, Aaron Chada, Richie McClelland and Gweneth Doherty.
“This past year really has been a turning point for us because we have just moved premises, we are under new management with Cath McBride, our development manager, and she has really strengthened our organisation. With a background in street theatre she has a great vision and has been looking beyond the company to broaden our expertise in other areas. Our new board of directors has also been offering us a tremendous amount of guidance and expertise,” she says.
“We have been getting into a lot of other street theatre opportunities in the UK and Ireland. For example The Candy Girls will be going to Glastonbury this year, to bring a little joy and fashion to the muddy fields,” said Nicky.
“This past year has been incredible. The City of Culture has played a part in our new direction and our international connections have also played a part in our new vision and expansion. We are looking beyond the city now and have been working closely with Mooky Cornish, our patron, and for the first time this year we were able to bring her over to work with us for two weeks, which was incredible.”
Nicky continued: “Mooky is loving the direction In Your Space is taking and she wants to continue the relation ship with us. She is a highly regarded and respected and has helped create an opportunity for us to work with other artists of her calibre for our own artists to strengthen their skills and help build a solid circus base in the city.
“The City of Culture made us realise the amount of potential that we have and we have really put the work in and focused last year. We realised that we have a lot to offer and we just have to keep working at it because we now know we have the potential to be international artists as well if we focus on strengthening the group and putting in the time,” she said.
The circus skills aspect of their work has been particularly popular, with numbers quadrupling for those wanting to take part.
“We have a waiting list of two months,” said Nicky.
There are classes on Monday nights for adults and children and for young people on Tuesday, and in a new development, In your Face will also soon be running classes on a Saturday just simply to meet demand from the 14 to 17 age group for skills like unicycle, juggling, stilt-walking, clowning and poi and devil sticks, the latter two leading to fire juggling.
“Children go mad for classes and parents admit they enjoy the challenge of doing something different and they end up addicted to it too,” she said.
Carnival of Colours
Meanwhile, the team is hard at work putting finishing touches to this year’s the Carnival of Colours, which is bigger, better and more colourful than ever before.
Running from May 31 to June 1 it will see St Columb’s park transformed as the Carnivale team showcase the very best of international street theatre and local acts interspersed with an eclectic mix of side shows and attractions to guarantee a full quota of belly laughs and a truly magical experience for folk of all ages.
St Columbs Park will be transformed into a magical playground for all; from the young to the old, the mild to the wild. Entertainers will include The Lords of Strut, Jonathan Taylor, Dansko Gida, The Magilligans, Jonathan Kay, The Belfast Community Circus School and The North West Circus School, The Candie Girls, The Jumping Jesters, The Pyromancers, and much more.
Let them entertain you
Contact details: To contact the main office telephone 028 7134 1175.
Emails: Nicky Harley, artistic director: Nicky@inyourspaceni.org;
Cath McBride, festival manager: Cath@inyourspaceni.org;
Seamus Coyle, event manager: email@example.com;
Louise Conaghan, festival team: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Michael Johnston, festival team: email@example.com.