In 2015 and 2016, LAStheatre collaborated with Wild Rumpus and So It Is, to create The Lost Carnival. I developed and wrote the central spectacles for both shows and directed each of the productions.
‘A Spellbinding Spectacle’ – Machester Evening News
Over a century ago an incredible carnival, the most enchanting carnival in the world, suddenly stopped touring at the peak of its popularity, under suspicious and mysterious circumstances. Following an investigation by an amateur sleuth and radio documentary maker (played out over 5 podcasts in the run up to the event), the Carnival reappeared in the North of England in May 2015; it enthralled and enchanted family audiences with incredible acrobats, astounding sideshows, wild gypsy music, mechanical contraptions and spellbinding theatre.
The family audience in Lancashire helped to keep the Carnival alive with their passion, enthusiasm and love; it survived just long enough for a breathtaking finale to take place featuring the dramatic return of the Carnival’s leader, Popou Ingenou, aboard a steam train. She’d escaped the clutches of a treacherous rival troupe, the Birds, and brought back the beautiful Phoenix whose magic ensured continued life for the performers and their marvellous show.
2016 saw The Lost Carnival return for The Battle of the Carnivals!
The Bird Carnival challenged the Ingénue’s to a battle royal, a carnival-off, if you will. Sergei Bird, the head of the Bird Carnival, felt ill-treated by reports last year claiming he stole Popou Ingénue’s phoenix. He said, and I quote: “things are not always as they seem, nothing is ever black and white, nothing fair in love and warring carnivals.”
On the hour, every hour, the audience met at the Boxing Ring Stage where members of each carnival waited to slog it out for their approval…
“One carnival will be crowned champion. The other banished from the carnival world forever. Letttssss Geettt Reeadddyy Tooo Rummmblllleeee.”
MY six-year-old son and his 10-year-old cousin were so captivated by our visit to the Lost Carnival that they hastily devised their own act. Luckily, considering they have only very basic gymnastics experience, their short tumbling routine involved no aerial acrobatics. But every time they spotted one of the professional performers, the pair coaxed them away for a few moments to watch their show. By this time next year, I expect them to have packed their bags and run away to join the circus… or rather carnival.
The Lost Carnival is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. But when I say ‘see’, it’s much more than that – because you literally become a part of the carnival. The outdoor immersive theatre experience opened yesterday at Queen’s Park, Crewe, and you can still catch it this evening or tomorrow evening. The magical evening centres on the Birds and the Ingénues, two rival carnival families battling for supremacy. Each team attempts to win over the audience with their dazzling circus skills, featuring magic, music, acrobatics, and more. At the end of the evening, it’s up to us – children and adults alike – to vote for our favourite family (reminds me of the circus that is the EU Referendum, although the Lost Carnival is far more fun).
But which family did I vote for? Well, after pledging my allegiance to Team Ingénue early in the evening, by the end I’d switched my support to their rivals. Why? I simply couldn’t not vote for Team Bird after their mischievous magician, Maks Mager, called upon my services as his impromptu assistant on stage. I thoroughly enjoyed my moment in the limelight, although I’m still awaiting his response to my request for a permanent role with his troupe. If you get the chance, I’d wholeheartedly recommend an evening at the Lost Carnival before it leaves town. It’s family entertainment at its most imaginative best.
– Colette Warbrook
The Lost Carnival is a collaboration between LAStheatre, Wild Rumpus and So It Is. The theatrical production at the heart of The Lost Carnival was conceived, written, directed and designed by LAStheatre. The 2015 show was based on an original idea by Geoff Bird.
Arts Council England and Cheshire East Council