As our 2017 Tour comes to a close, we are reminiscing about DEPART’s shows in beautiful locations across the UK, including Hull’s General Cemetery in May. Watch Hull2017’s video Depart: A Look Back for a glimpse at the spell-binding performance.
DEPART’s 2017 tour made waves in Hull, Brighton and Blackpool, taking the performance to the front page and spreads of The Yorkshire Post, Sussex Life, The Sunday Telegraph and The Times.
“Another stunning City of Culture show is drawing crowds to a Hull cemetery,” said Hannah Robinson of the Hull Daily Mail News, ‘with audience members calling it ‘fantastic’ and an ‘amazing spectacle.’”
Audience members on social media after the event seemed to agree.
‘The visual images in that magnificent park and feats of bodily skill and grace will stay with us for a long time’
‘That was one of the most emotional and all-encompassing performances I feel I've ever seen! The spectacle and sheer scale, coupled with the standard of ability from the performers, the eerily beautiful setting in Stanley Park and the commitment of volunteers and the choir made for an experience that overwhelmed and ignited my senses’
‘A cemetery at night in Brighton couldn't be more mesmerising, #DEPARTcircus by @CircaPresents was magical!’
‘Still utterly blown away by #DEPARTcircus, wonderfully enhanced by the rain, and that can't have helped the wonderful performers. Brilliant.’
We're delighted to announce that the 2016 hit-show Depart will be embarking on a UK tour this year, playing in cemeteries and parks in Hull, Brighton and Blackpool from 18 May - 4 June.
Led by the world renowned Australian contemporary circus ensemble Circa, Yaron Lifschitz's site-specific production will transform three new atmospheric locations into the underworld:
18 - 21 May, General Cemetery, Hull (part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017)
Tickets on sale now | Find out more
25 - 28 May, Woodvale Cemetery, Brighton (part of Brighton Festival)
Tickets on sale to Brighton Festival Members now, on sale to the General Public 24 Feb | Find out more
1 - 4 June, Stanley Park, Blackpool (part of LeftCoast)
Tickets on sale soon | Find out more
Inspired by the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, Depart will transform these evocative environments as world renowned circus artists dance above the heads of roaming audiences to create genre-defying spectacles. With direction from Yaron Lifschitz and a creative team including Lapalux, Depart brings together acrobats, aerialists, local community choirs and video artists for an inimitable, immersive evening of entertainment.
Local singers from The Hull Freedom Chorus, community choirs from around Blackpool and the Fylde Coast and from various Brighton-based choirs will be part of the 100+ strong cast in each location. Alongside this, students from National Centre for Circus Arts (NCCA) and Northern School of Contemporary Dance (NSCD) will join the company throughout the tour.
Depart enthralled over 4000 audience members as it took over Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park at its world premiere last June. Mark Ball, LIFT Artistic Director of LIFT, said:
“With circus performers defying gravity at every turn and Lapalux’s beautiful electronic score soaring above the treetops, wandering around Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park during Depart last June was a personal highlight of last year’s LIFT. I’m delighted that we’re now able to share Circa’s epic and emotionally-charged show with audiences across the country, bringing an array of exceptional circus artists, composers, singers and dancers together to create a spine-tingling piece of work. I hope Depart stays with audiences for as long as it has stayed with me.”
Yaron Lifschitz said, “At the heart of the experience is the attempt to grasp the ungraspable - to connect ourselves with the very liminality that makes us human, to look up, even as the long-buried dead lie beneath our feet. Depart is a meditation, a playground for the soulful, an art gallery without walls, a circus in search of transcendence and a hundred moments of joyous beauty. It is performed with respect and aims for rapture.”
Depart is a Circa production, co-commissioned by LIFT, National Centre for Circus Arts, Spitalfields Music, Hull UK City of Culture 2017, LeftCoast and Brighton Festival. Supported by Arts Council England.
Images: Tristram Kenton
In 2017 the eyes of the world will be on Hull as it becomes UK City of Culture. Hull 2017 will deliver 365-days of transformative arts and culture through an awe-inspiring programme of events across the city, working in collaboration with the most exciting and adventurous artists making work today.
If you came to see DEPART back in June, you'll already be aware of the stunning location - why not return to Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park in the day time and explore its leafy pathways and wonderful sights while listening to an original story created specifically for the park?
We commissioned Romany Reagan (Abney Rambles) to create an audio tour of the cemetery, this fictional tale will bring your walk around the park to life.
In 2011 the Director of Circus Development at NCCA, Daisy Drury, dreamed up the idea of circus in a cemetery - five years later Depart is born.
Read her recollection of how an idea became reality below.
About five years ago a friend commented idly that he’d never been truly, properly frightened by a theatre production in the same way that he had been by films. I took this passing comment as a kind of challenge and so, shortly afterwards, when my husband took me to Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park for the first time, I felt like I might have found the place where I could put my friend’s theory to the test.
I first visited the park on a lowering day in mid-summer when the park was noticeably cooler than the heavy London streets around it. The foliage was thick at every level, grasping at our ankles and creating dark spooky pockets wherever we looked. It was wonderfully atmospheric and gazing up at the tall trees that screened out the light and noise from 21stCentury London I thought how amazing it would be to bring people to this place at dusk to see aerialists in the trees, dancers on the pathways and acrobats ducking and diving between the gravestones.
Nice idea but how on earth do you make something like that happen? An early conversation with the team at Spitalfields Music about collaborating on the project concluded that despite a great deal of enthusiasm on both sides neither they nor we had the skills or resources to deliver something so large, ambitious and, well, outdoorsy.
All went quiet and I focused on other things for a few years until I found myself sitting next to Mark Ball, Artistic Director at LIFT, at a lunch and telling him about the crazy cemetery idea. He nodded and smiled in his usual inscrutable way and I thought I was probably talking too much and ought to shut up. A few months later an email arrived that said, simply ‘Can we talk about cemeteries?’ I’m not even sure he signed it. When LIFT came on board with all their skill and experience in delivering projects of this scale I knew that the Cemetery Project (as we called it in those days) now had a chance of becoming reality. When Yaron agreed to direct it I knew that it had a chance of being amazing.
Much has changed in the intervening years since I first looked up in the Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park and imagined aerialists. The Olympics happened. We became the National Centre for Circus Arts. I had two children. The Cemetery Project, in the hands of the brilliant Circa team became Depart. We teamed up with Central School of Ballet. A few performances in London became a national tour. And my friend, the one who started the whole thing off, saw Ghost Stories in the West End and was sufficiently terrified by it that he disproved his theory himself.
This last is helpful because when Depart opens on Thursday I don’t want to frighten our audience anymore. I want them to be moved and surprised that a place so otherworldly and peaceful can exist in the heart of London. I want them to witness, some perhaps for the first time, the lengths and depths that circus can reach. I want the hair to stand up on the back of their necks. I want their noses to tingle and their hearts to beat faster. I want them to question what their eyes and ears are telling them. And I want them to head back on to the Mile End Road at the end of the night having spent a few hours or so in our wonderful circus world where it would seem that, almost anything is possible and crazy ideas can, in the end, become reality.
It's a week until Depart leads us into and out of the underworld in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. Rehearsals have been taking place all over East London in preparation for this multidisciplinary production. While choirs from Tower Hamlets have been working on the music, these performers, including students from the NCCA and Central School of Ballet, have been working with Circa to dazzle us with their acrobatic feats.
Depart will premiere in the hauntingly beautiful Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. A Victorian treasure hidden in the heart of East London, the atmospheric Cemetery Park is a tranquil haven nestled into the surrounding highrise and bustle of the East End. Moss covered graves and foreboding gothic tombs are overrun by rich woodland and wildlife. The only dedicated woodland park in Tower Hamlets, it is London’s most urban woodland and, unlike much of the surrounding city, homes many more species than pigeons and foxes. Opened in 1841, the Cemetery Park is soaked in history being created as one of London’s Magnificent Seven Cemeteries, built to accommodate the increasingly sprawling metropolis that the capital was becoming. The park contains remains of many significant local residents and offers a fascinating insight into the history of the borough over the last century. Closed to burials in 1966, the park now serves as a peaceful space, whose history, woodland and wildlife borders on magical.
To fully experience the magic of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, join one of their guided tours delving into its fascinating history or uncovering the incredible variety of flora and fauna populating the park.
Rehearsals have begun for what is set to be the biggest thing to hit London this summer. Internationally renowned artists Circa have been rehearsing just down the road at the National Centre for Circus Arts with the students there. By June the Circa artists and NCCA students will have to make sure that the outcome of their rehearsals can be adapted to fit around the trees, tombs and gravestones of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. Depart is going to be a hauntingly daring spectacle, we can’t wait to see it!