By Natasha Anderson
Diana Wortham Theatre presents A Simple Space by Australian circus ensemble Gravity & Other Myths on Saturday, January 12, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. For this show, seven members of the multi-award winning acrobatic group push their physical limits, armed with nothing more than brute strength and cat-like agility in a stripped-down performance without make-up or contrived theatrical overlay. In addition to traditional seating, limited on-stage seats allow audience members to feel the heat, see the sweat and hear every breath uttered by the acrobats.
“I love having the audience so close that I can reach out and touch them,” says ensemble member Jacob Randell. “It allows a unique connection. Every reaction we have is clearly visible, with nothing to mask it.”
A Simple Space is the company’s most awarded and internationally successful work, performed more than 500 times across 24 countries. Dramatically lit and backed by playful percussion, performers seemingly turn to rubber before the audience’s eyes, weightless, nimble and gravity-defying as they’re tossed through the air within arm’s reach of the on-stage audience. The raw format forces the performers to break down their usual guards and introduces the reality of possible failure and weakness. With nothing to hide behind, their personal narratives come through.
“We wanted to make something that people could engage with, rather than a show where we were from a different world or were wearing glamorous costumes,” says Lachlan Binns, founding member of the group and creator of A Simple Space. “We wanted audiences to appreciate that we’re just regular people who are really passionate and love what we do.”
Gravity & Other Myths was founded in Adelaide, Australia, in 2009. The group’s debut performance, Freefall, which explored their fears through honesty and humor, rocketed them to stardom. They also received critical acclaim for Exhale, a 15-minute piece named for the fact that audiences hold their breath as the performers tumble across the stage and toss each other into the air in incredible displays of strength.
“The sheer physical endurance is the most difficult part of the shows for us,” says Randell. “A Simple Space was designed around the team taking turns pushing themselves to their personal and collective limits. Not every show has the same outcome because sometimes one performer has more juice in the tank than another.”
Diana Wortham Theatre is located at 18 Biltmore Avenue in Asheville. Tickets are $20–$60. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit DWTheatre.com or call 828.257.4530.