Edinburgh Fringe 2022
Founder, Losers Cirque Company
Heroes. What is going on in a mind of a severely injured person undergoing a surgery after a serious car crash? Our leading character literally fights for his life – with us, you can get a peek of his colourful inner world. The performance combines a pantomime and inventive acrobatics. Shock, sadness, hope and even humour! Brace yourselves for an emotional rollercoaster. Innovative production bringing together masters of their disciplines.
Starring award-winning mime Radim Vizváry. Czech group Losers Cirque Company are directed by Daniel Špinar, head of the National Theatre.
Hi Petr, thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been keeping?
It’s been great, we’re preparing everything for the set-off to Scotland.
What does it mean to you to be able to bring Heroes to ZOO Southside this summer?
We’ve been waiting for this opportunity for more than two years and it’s literally a dream coming true for us. It makes me really proud that we’ve finally made it. I attended the festival in the past and its atmosphere was unique and just astounding. Ever since the memory of the festival has always been somewhere in the back on my mind, no matter what we did, no matter what we trained and rehearsed, I kept thinking about Fringe and the thought of the festival became a fellow watching over all my activities. Now it’s finally happening, we’re going to perform there. The Losers and me are just incredibly excited about it.
The reviews for Heroes have been really amazing. What does it mean to you to know that this unique production has been so well received and understood by its audience?
I am really honoured the audience received the performance where we’re trying to express inward and serious themes so well. I hadn’t dared hope for such great reviews and now I’m just nervous how is the performance going to be received by expert audience and the finest people of their fields at Fringe. Even though we’ve already performed with this show abroad, each experience is unique so Fringe might as well be the premiere for the Heroes – I would probably feel the same.
It has been a long road for Losers Cirque Company to Edinburgh Fringe and with this being your companies Fringe Debut, will there be any nerves ahead of your run?
I’m excited but also anxious if everything is going to go smoothly and feel a great responsibility for the success of the entire ensemble. Not all Losers are same as me though, I’d say it’s half and half – some get nervous quite quickly, some are chilled and worry about nothing. We’re lucky to have Radim with us, as he’s really experienced performer and the glue that holds us together and makes everything work in perfect sense.
What makes the Edinburgh Fringe so special to you?
It’d say it’s the goal for me, the goal I’ve been wanting to conquer for a really long time. I love the way it represents contemporary circus which is, of course, my life-long passion. I know I’ve mentioned it but for lack of better words I’d like to stress once again the uniqueness of its atmosphere friendly to anyone who shares the same passion as you. From my experience I also consider Edinburgh Fringe to be the perfect place for drawing new stimuli, as it gathers many inspiring and skilful people.
What has the experience for Losers Cirque Company working with the award-winning Czech mime and choreographer Radim Vizváry and our renowned director Daniela Špinar?
We’ve been cooperating for many years and have become great friends in the process. They’re both very bold and inspiring personalities, and their input makes our performances, especially the Heroes, so special. The process of creating a new show might not always be of the most peaceful ones, but the final outcome is definitely worth it and they’re both true and experienced pros. They’re a part of our other projects too, for example Radim choreographed the performance EGO with only two performers on the stage where I played as well. And Radim of course shares his home stage with us and is based by our side in Divadlo BRAVO! back in Prague.
Can you tell me a little bit about Heroes came about, what was the inspiration behind this show?
We wanted to depict a rich and colourful inner world of the leading character who happens to be fighting for his life during the performance, as we feel it offers space for interesting and thought-provoking takes. At first we were just fascinated by the great unknown and asked ourselves what might be happening in the mind of a person who’s between life and death. We get that some may perceive this as a painful and dark topic but we wanted to make sure that our main motif would be hope and the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
What have been the biggest challenges you faced bringing Heroes to the stage, how different was this production compared to your previous works?
We’re trying to outdo ourselves with each end every performance and we strive to invent ever more difficult and breath-taking acrobatic stunts so the Heroes were challenging for us in this aspect, even though it was not something unheard of for us. But there’s what was different: the Losers are known for their sense of humour and specific form of expression. With the Heroes we wanted to show that we’re not afraid of more serious topics as well and that we’re able to deliver even on a darker theme. And I think it worked. It was also really interesting to cooperate with a mime on the stage. Radim really gave us a valuable lesson and taught us to work with our bodies and faces in yet another way. And we taught him several stunts, wait and see.
Heroes premiere at Letní Letná Festival in 2019, since this performance has the show changed much ahead of the Fringe?
Yes, there were of course several finishing touches and cosmetic changes, but one of the most difficult challenges was to keep our acrobats in their peak condition as the pandemics happened soon after. It was even more crucial to maintain good relationships in our team, so we don’t lose trust in each other which is the most important aspect while performing our stunts.
How important is the creative collaboration between you, Losers Cirque Company and your director Daniela Špinar?
We’re really happy that Daniela, who is really the absolute master in her field and one of the best in the Czech scene, cooperates with us. It’s a real pleasure to do just about anything with Daniela, but to see her work in a theatre and to be able to participate as well is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. She brings her own unique perspective and isn’t afraid to make an unpopular decision, but she clearly knows what she’s doing and her results speak for themselves.
What has been the most valuable lesson you have taken away from this production and what does Heroes say about the type of theatre Losers Cirque Company want to create?
After the Heroes premiere I finally got the feeling that people were starting to take the contemporary circus really seriously. I’ve also learnt that we can’t be scared to reach out and aim for cooperation with the absolute tops of their fields – such as Daniela Špinar and Radim Vizváry. Thanks to their help we were really able to bring the best of us to the stage. And I also learnt to trust the Losers not only while performing our stunts, but also with all the backstage work – while preparing the Heroes I was responsible for the scenography and spent most of my time at our rehearsals and workouts which got really exhausting at times.
"And my last tip is the most practical – don’t let the audience break you down when they’re not giving you a standing ovation."
Have you always had a passion for theatre?
Ever since I was very young! Not only for theatre, but also for exercising and physical activity. Exercising is my life – I’m even the three-time Czech champion in martial arts, Wushu, and the vice-champion of Europe. But then I combined my passion for work-out with my passion for theatre and it all led to me and my partner signing up for the first year of Czechia-Slovakia Got Talent which we won. Thanks to us winning we got the opportunity to perform in Las Vegas and it all resulted in founding the Losers Cirque Company ensemble. Even though I don’t perform as much as I used to, I’m present at everything we do and Losers still give me a good time and extra energy.
Do you have any advice, tips or suggestions you would offer anyone wanting to get into theatre?
If your motivation is a fantasy about a responsibility-free bohemian theatre world, then remember that it’s not the case. Not only in the contemporary circus, but in any theatre field is discipline the very first thing. If you want to be good, you gotta work hard, simple as that, no shortcuts. There is nothing more important than discipline. But watch out for a burn-out and don’t let your drive die out. Cherish it, take a rest, focus on something else for a while, do what you love and love what you do. And my last tip is the most practical – don’t let the audience break you down when they’re not giving you a standing ovation. It happened to all of us, even the very best, and it does not mean that you failed on your journey to success – but only that you were slightly set-back and maybe you know the best that you didn’t give it your all.
And finally, what do you want your Fringe audiences to take away from Heroes?
Never give up on your hope and dreams. And take that contemporary circus more seriously than you do now, it’s so much more than just showy stunts and pompous acrobatic tricks.