Circus show inspired by refugee stories comes to London

Limits runs at the Southbank from August 13. Photo: Mattias Edwall
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A new circus show inspired by the real-life stories of refugees fleeing war-torn countries will have its UK premiere next week.

It was conceived by Swedish circus maker Tilde Bjorfors after she opened up her home to refugees in 2015.

Titled Limits, it is part of a trilogy that explores the concept of boundaries in today’s world, and will have its premiere at the Southbank Centre.

Bjorfors is the founder and artistic director of the Scandinavian contemporary circus company Cirkus Cirkor, and two years ago she set up a transitional housing facility for refugees, as well as opening up her own home to those needing accommodation.

It is the stories of the refugees Bjorfors met at this time, including one individual from Iraq who lived with her, that form the basis of Limits.

Speaking about the production, Bjorfors said: “There’s a big difference between a circus performer who takes risks of their own free will, and an individual fleeing for their life. Someone fleeing has no choice, yet the way they handle risk is the same.

“A person fleeing knows what it’s like to be afraid, while at once being brave. They know that when you venture out into the unknown, it is only the belief that it is possible that keeps you going. That faith in oneself and others is a necessity; there is no other choice.”

She added it was “shocking” to watch Europe’s borders close on refugees.

Limits is performed by an ensemble of five, including acrobats, aerialists and jugglers.

It runs as part of the Southbank Centre’s year-long project on Nordic arts and culture, from August 13 to 16, before touring Europe.