Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2019
"Knot is an autobiographic piece. It’s a sneak peek into our partnership that is very intense and singular. Knot is about relationships, it’s about expectations - your own, your family’s, society’s, the audiences."
KNOT | Assembly Roxy (Upstairs)
31st July (not 6th, 13th, 20th) | 14:45 | TICKETS
Physically exhilarating and touchingly poignant, Knot is the internationally acclaimed circus theatre work by Nikki & JD. These talented performers use breathtaking hand-to-hand and dance skills to tell the tale of an impossible choice: how can we be honest with ourselves without hurting those we love?
Hi Nikki & JD thanks for talking to TNC, how's everything going?
Very good thank you. We had a busy start to the summer with touring our show Knot and the creation of our second show Pass. We’re very excited about what is ahead of us in the near future.
How does it feel to be bringing Knot to Edinburgh Fringe?
We are so excited to bring Knot to the Fringe. We wanted to take it there for a while but we haven’t had the chance until now. So, when Jacksons Lane approached us and said there were interested in producing us, we jumped on the occasion. We have also been selected to be part of the British Council Showcase so it feels very encouraging to come up this year.
Are there any nerves ahead of your festival run?
Yes, we are excited but also a bit terrified. Knot is a very physical show and performing it for a month every day is quite a tiring adventure. Plus, you never know how Edinburgh is going to treat you. We have been to Edinburgh with different shows before and we know it can be quite a tough experience psychologically. But, saying that, I think we both trust our show and are up and ready for the challenge.
Can you tell me a little bit about Knot, what can we expect?
Knot is an autobiographic piece. It’s a sneak peek into our partnership that is very intense and singular. Knot is about relationships, it’s about expectations - your own, your family’s, society’s, the audiences. Knot is a surprising circus show. There are loads of acrobatics as you would expect, but also some comedy and storytelling. Basically, Knot is a real blend, it is circus made humane.
What was the inspiration behind Knot?
As I said before, the main inspiration was us. When we used to work in cabarets, we were often asked to perform the classic star-cross lovers on stage. We both felt like it was never really us. Spoiler alert but I, JD, am gay. And being asked to portray a heterosexual relationship on stage never felt right. Knot came out of that internal conflict. How can we play with the audiences’ expectations? Do people prefer hearing a fairy tale story or the truth behind it?
"By telling my story in front of you on stage, you will relate in a very personal way and I think both me and Nikki are very interested in that."
What have been the biggest challenges bringing this new show to life?
There were many challenges along the way when we created Knot. First of all, it was our first show. What kind of show did we want to make? We both love storytelling. We wanted a show with a clear narrative throughout, but we are not actors and didn’t really have any experience of talking on stage. The first challenge with Knot was to learn a way to tell our story that felt genuine to us and also worked on stage. For that, Ben Duke, director from Lost Dog was an amazing help. Another challenge was that we really wanted the acrobatics to come out of the story and the movement rather than feeling like it was added on top. To tackle that, we worked with a lot of different choreographers to find our own movement quality that combines movement and acrobatics.
When a production like Knot is running is it always evolving or are you able to avoid changing too much of it?
We try to keep it fresh for us. We really want to try to tell the story every time like it’s the first time. So, we try to tweak the text a bit every time but when it comes to the choreography and the overall structure of the show it is pretty set indeed. We change some stuff sometimes but it is getting rarer and rarer.
Describe Knot in 3 words?
Funny – Vulnerable – Honest
Have you always had a passion for theatre?
Yes, I used to go and watch theatre in France very regularly. In my high school there was a theatre option but funnily enough, at the time, I felt too shy to apply and chose the cinema studies instead. It was only later on when I started to study circus that my passion for theatre came back and I grew enough confidence to try it myself.
Has your style and approach to creating your shows changed much since you started?
Yes, I got into circus because I felt like you could “hide” behind the tricks and the technique. I thought you wouldn’t have to do too much apart from the impressive things, people would be impressed about what you do and you wouldn’t have to show too much of you. Somehow, at the time, that felt like a good thing. It’s funny because now I see it exactly as the opposite. The circus technique is not the most interesting thing to me anymore. I only want to use it as a tool to say something. Everybody goes through life in their own body. That is the only way we experience the world and that is the way we know best. But in telling our singular stories I feel like we can all find some universality. By telling my story in front of you on stage, you will relate in a very personal way and I think both me and Nikki are very interested in that.
What has been the best piece of advice you've been given?
Take your time. I feel like we had the chance to mature that show for a few years. It is a bit of a luxury but it means there are more layers and more depth in the story we tell.
Do you have any advice you would offer a fellow theatre maker?
I guess to trust yourself but also get a good team. We all know that it is quite a perilous road to make shows. It’s hard to start, it is very demanding psychologically, but I think there is never really a bad idea, only bad executions. So get outside eyes that are on the same wavelength. You cannot make a show on your own. It’s really a journey you have to share with others. And go and see stuff. learn to articulate what you like or not. Get inspired.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from this show?
That is a hard question to answer. What I always want is to make a show that will stay with people. I love to make people laugh but I always feel like it’s not enough. I want to also make them reflect on what it is to be human. I would love them to feel that by seeing our story they realised for a bit that they are not alone in this weird journey that is life.