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Aerialist Rebecca Rennison: ‘We need ushers to keep drunk audience members away from performers’

Rebecca Rennison Rebecca Rennison

Circus performer Rebecca Rennison’s multiple skills include silks, rope and hoop. She tells Giverny Masso about performing in Becoming Shades, an immersive retelling of the Hades and Persephone Greek myth, at London’s Vault Festival...

What drew you to aerial performance?

The ethereal quality – it’s always so magical. Everyone wants to fly, and that is the closest thing to it. That is what attracted me.

How did you get into circus?

I came to circus quite late. I trained as a dancer at Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and I was a dancer at Circus Krone in Germany. I was dating a trapeze artist who said: “You should start trying aerial.” When I came to London, I did lots of classes. My skills include rope, hoop, silks and cube.

What’s Becoming Shades about?

It’s a retelling of the Greek myth of Hades and Persephone, in which she choses to become part of the underworld and falls in love with him. I am Persephone. I do a duo silk act with Alfa Marks, who plays Hades, and a fire hoop act. I’ve got more used to the fire act now – I was a bit scared at the beginning. Of course, anything we try in the show is well rehearsed.

Becoming Shades review at Vaults, London – ‘impressive acrobatic work’

How did you create your character?

Because she has no words, I come from a movement perspective. I read into the myth. I love the fact she decides to become queen of the underworld, that’s really empowering.

What is it like performing an immersive show?

I think the audience really enjoy it. But it’s hard though when people in there are really drunk. You have to be at least three metres away from audience members, but we have two ushers to make sure of this – we’re all working together. You can hear the audience gasp, which you can’t hear on stage.

What has been your biggest challenge as a performer?

Reinventing myself. You are constantly training, and circus is much more accessible to everyone now – it’s not as niche. It’s about upping your skill level and looking at which things you can do that are different. It’s important to always train and do classes. As well as getting the training in, my advice to emerging circus performers is not to worry so much about which moves you can do and to enjoy it.

What have been your most memorable career moments? And what are you planning to do next?

Once at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe I had to run up Arthur’s Seat as a swan wearing a big shiny tutu, and I’ve also performed as a backing dancer at the Royal Variety Show. My highlights include performing last year at the Peacock Theatre in London in the show Soho. I’ll soon be performing in The Exploded Circus [with Mimbre] as it tours up and down the UK.

CV: Rebecca Rennison

Training: Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (2004-07)
First professional role: Rigged at the Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh (2006)
Agent: HeadNod

Becoming Shades runs at London’s Vault Festival until March 18