Barely Methodical Troupe (BMT) – one of the country’s most exciting circus companies – visits The Point this October to present SHIFT; an awe-inspiring display of power-based acrobatics. Founding member Charlie Wheeller was born and raised in Eastleigh, this run of performances marking his homecoming.
We spoke to Charlie about SHIFT, his career so far, and what’s next for him, ahead of BMT’s performance in October.
Can you tell us how Barely Methodical Troupe got started?
The original members of BMT (Beren, Louis and I) met at the National Centre for Circus Arts where we were studying for a degree in Circus Arts. In the final year there was an opportunity to create a company through the school. Beren and Louis then won a circus competition with Underbelly entitled Circus Maximus, whose prize was to have a show produced by the purple cow behemoth.
So in 2014, fresh from graduating, BMT flipped onto the scene at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where we debuted the show BROMANCE; a story of male companionship. Since then the company has grown, added some international artists to the troupe, and has created two more full length shows, KIN and SHIFT. Look out for them!
What can audiences expect from SHIFT?
Enter a shifting world with four artists getting to grips with this new landscape. The floor may electrocute you, the wind whisk you up, so keep hold of those around you to keep you close to safety. Not to worry as you are in secure hands with our giant Louis Gift, our spicy Spanish boy Elihu Vasquez, the ethereal sprite Esmerelda Nikolajeff, and I will be spinning you around into a frenzy with a wheel.
Are you looking forward to performing in your hometown? Is there a sense of ease compared to performing in other cities?
I can’t wait to perform in my hometown! This will actually be the company’s first professional visit in my hometown. We spend a lot of time in London performing to the boys' home crowd but now I get the chance to show the south some fresh and funky moves! Lots of my friends from home haven't seen me spin so this should be quite an exciting couple of nights. The last time I was performing at The Point was over 10 years ago as part of a boys dance ensemble, throwing and catching chairs around the stage. This time we won't be throwing inanimate objects through the air, but humans!
What’s next for BMT and what will you be focusing on after SHIFT?
At the moment BMT has three shows in rep and soon we will be sending them off touring around the world. For BROMANCE we are heading off to Palestine, performing in Ramallah, Jerusalem and giving some workshops at Palestine’s Circus School. Early next year KIN flies over to Holland and our artists will be launched high off the teeterboard throughout our month long tour. In amongst all of the touring we have to maintain a high level of training and are always pushing ourselves to explore the next level, whatever it may be.
Are you working on any projects as an individual performer you can tell us about?
In BMT we all have our specialisations. Mine is spinning on the floor within a human sized steel wheel. It is called the Cyr Wheel and I have enjoyed travelling to studios and schools around the world to teach other artists. I am finding it a great tool to analyse techniques that you came across whilst in your own training. Teaching is a great way to learn.
As a local resident who went to Barton Peveril, what would your advice be for other locally-based young people who want to get into professional performance?
Get involved in as much extracurricular activity. Research what interests you and find like-minded people. In the end, people are at the centre of art so you want to find those that can help you and enjoy what you're doing. Start creating and let the work speak for itself. But most of all have fun, seriously!
Book tickets to SHIFT here.
Follow Charlie on Twitter @CharlieWheeller