Circus duo, Tamsin Shasha and Maisy Taylor are another of the Lowry’s Week53 Festival successes. Their show ‘Everything I See I Swallow’, which debuted at last year’s festival, went on to win a Fringe First award at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe. Quays Life caught-up with the pair as they prepare to bring the successful show back to the Lowry.
Tell us about yourselves and how you came to work together –
Tamsin “I am artistic director of Actors of Dionysus (aod), and we specialise in new adaptations of Ancient Greek drama and new writing inspired by myth. I re-trained as an aerialist at the then named Circus Space about 12 years ago, and I really wanted to introduce an aerial/circus dimension in to aod’s work. Subsequently I took a solo piece, Bacchic, to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival which I co-wrote, and then I created another piece about Helen of Troy.
“Everything I See I Swallow is allowing me to explore other avenues in my work away from Ancient Greek drama but further developing my aerial interests”.
Maisy “I am a professional circus artist and I’ve been working in the industry for around four years. I trained at the National Centre for Circus Arts where I specialised in rope, and I graduated with a first class honours degree. I have always been interested in using text in my work, and I’m really interested in the ways in which aerial circus can be used to tell stories and integrate with theatre”.
Tamsin “Steve Cowton, Head of Theatre Operations at The Lowry has followed my work with aod over a number of years. He was aware of my connection with Maisy and was interested in supporting us to create a new piece of aerial work around the theme “Coming of Age”, to preview at their Week53 Festival in 2018 – and this is how the project came about”.
What is the inspiration behind your work?
Tamsin “I’m really interested in the female sexuality aspect of Maisy’s work. There were lots of overlaps in areas of our work; areas that we liked, areas that we wanted to explore, and that was really the starting point for the show”.
Maisy “I worked a lot when I graduated as an art nude model, in a strip club as a cabaret performer and dancer, I trained in shibari which is a Japanese rope bondage art and which we use in the show, and I acted in a porn film which was produced by Erika Lust who is a feminist, activist porn film maker. So I’ve always been really interested in the social, political context of these things in society today; the way that people view sexuality and the way that people treat their sexuality really fascinates me, and I’ve kind of used my life as a bit of a landscape to experiment and discover some answers to some questions that I have about these things. When I found out that Tamsin was interested in these things too, it felt like a really amazing opportunity to make something more than I ever had before about this subject.”
What is the show about?
Tamsin “In a nutshell, Everything I See I Swallow looks at themes of female sexuality and empowerment across a generational divide in a modern context, centred around a mother/daughter relationship. It follows an art curator who discovers that her daughter has been posting semi-naked images of herself on Instagram. Is this freedom of expression or exploitation and what is the difference? Her daughter argues that she feels empowered by her actions, and so begins a battle of wills and beliefs, as the bond between mother and daughter is tested.
“The show fuses aerial rope work and theatre with the erotic art of Japanese rope bondage – shibari – in a fascinating exploration of epic themes in an intimate setting”.
What do you hope that audiences will take away from the show?
Tamsin “We want to encourage debate and provoke questions. We had a period of so called “post feminism”, where we were supposed to have achieved equality where we clearly haven’t – feminism is often seen as a dirty word and we want to look at the different faces of feminism; from a mother’s viewpoint, and from her daughter. We want audiences not to just think about feminism, but about subjects like what constitutes control, freedom, liberation, when does protection become control”.
Maisy “I would like audiences to come away with a more complex understanding about the issues raised, and to ask more questions. I’d like them to understand how complicated these issues are, and to understand that we’re not trying to represent one argument as being more right than the other. I’d like just to have a really honest conversation where we don’t shy away from all of the questions”.
Everything I See I Swallow is at The Lowry, Salford Quays from 11-12 September 2019.
Read our review of Everything I See I Swallow at The Lowry.