Text by: Ava Davies 撰文：Ava Davies
Translated by: Chen Ting 翻譯：Chen Ting
NoFit State is a circus troupe like no other. Borne as a product of Thatcherite Britain and a creative reaction to the recession surrounding them, they have been part of British culture for twenty-seven years and are a valuable asset to the UK arts institution. The company’s ethos is fascinating – a travelling troupe with a moveable tent, they live, work, tour and train together, creating a sense of familial cohesion in their pursuit of ‘beautiful carnage and organised anarchy’ that their audiences want to become part of.
From their inception in 1986NoFit State pushed boundaries. They could be found juggling and busking at anti-Thatcher and anti-Apartheid demonstrations before finally deciding to set up their own circus company that specialised in political satire and was often shut down for being too controversial. While this air of zeitgeist political rebellion has faded somewhat, NoFit State has maintained their sense of anarchic, mischievous fun. Now, however, they choose to subvert expectations of circus performance: while traditional circus ideas are not discarded completely, the company see the term as having a looser definition. They take inspiration from different art forms and harness these in order to create shows that are more influenced by the mediums of modern dance and immersive theatre than clichéd images of clowns and Big Tops. They are the opposite of Cirque du Soleil, seeking to create work, which rather than simply allows their audiences to watch and admire from afar, directly engages with the mind and soul. Though their productions do have strong narratives, (Tabu, a 2009 show, took inspiration from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude), NoFitState truly excel when they grapple with fundamental themes like failure, love and sex which are explored with bracing honesty and courage.
别扭馬戲團從1986年誕生那一刻起就在打破規則，表演的場所都是各種反撒切尔、反種族隔離的抗議活動現場。隨後他們成立了自己的馬戲團公司，專注於政治諷刺作品，也時常因題材備受爭議而被迫停演。儘管這種受時代精神影響的政治反抗特色已經逐漸褪去，但是别扭馬戲團仍會在無政府主義和惡作劇中尋找樂趣。如今，他們選擇去顛覆人們對馬戲團的印象：適當保留傳統馬戲的理念，在此基礎上豐富馬戲的內容，從其他藝術形式中汲取靈感並領會實質，創造出深受現代舞蹈和浸沒戲劇影響的作品，而非只是小丑和馬戲蓬的老調常談。别扭馬戲團注重觀眾的參與，與太陽馬戲團截然相反，觀眾不再是坐在台下遠遠欣賞，而是全情投入到表演中。别扭馬戲團的表演儘管故事性很強（例如2009年基於作家加夫列爾·加西亞·瑪律克斯（Gabriel Garcia Marquez）作品《百年孤獨》而創作的《Tabu》），但對失敗、愛情和性等根本主題大膽而真實的演繹，才是他們真正過人之處。
The company strive to strike a balance between traditional ideas of circus performance and the rejection of convention and preconception, and have been quietly reinventing the concept of circus performance throughout their twenty-seven year tenure. Their touring ethos, embodied in the way in which they pitch a tent to perform in at whatever venue they come to, arises from the classic image in the public consciousness of circus life – a travelling community who turn up out of nowhere, spontaneously call an audience, dazzle them, then leave without a trace. But NoFitState also combines elements of contemporary visual theatre, utilising live music and film to create a show which intertwines tradition and innovation, challenging public preconceptions of circus by creating shows which express their emotional content through fusions of original music and movement. Their position as a predominantly touring company allows a degree of flexibility and ability to evolve, something that is reflected in their international success; they have visited eighteen different countries and played to over a quarter of a million people over the last five years.
‘Bianco’ is one of the latest shows by NoFitState which exemplifies their core values and demonstrates the relevance of contemporary circus today. The show travels around the country, evolving and developing in accordance to its temporary surroundings, an aspect of the performance, which gains relevance as ‘Bianco’ deals with themes of change, time and transience. As a promenade performance, the audience are encouraged to move around the ring in order to get the best vantage points, adding a sense of irreverent fun and liveliness. ‘Bianco’ moves away from tired images of circuses in decades past, suggesting a new vibrancy to the art form in their sprightly, energetic performers who get up close and personal with their audience, weaving through the spectators as they make their way to the makeshift stage. ‘Bianco’ is a celebration of life and this is something that the company can whole-heartedly say they embrace, combining death-defying stunts with stunning visual beauty and a real sense of visceral human toil.
Above all, what NoFitState strive to create is a sense of escapism: that perennial, romantic image of running away to the circus is what they look to produce. And so by creating visually arresting and thematically challenging works, which transport their audiences to another world for a few hours, they are able to achieve their aims.