Cornwall circus performers shot at and tear gassed in Palestine as they help students – Cornwall Live

Posted By on May 8, 2022

A circus theatre company from Cornwall has been shot at and tear gassed after being invited to work with young performers in Palestine. Satya Lapham, artistic director of Incandescence Circus Theatre Company, said: "Coming from Cornwall, this is definitely not a normal reality to find yourself in. To the students they did not bat an eye, as this is their daily reality."

Thirteen members of Pendeen-based Incandescence travelled to the area of conflict in April to create a show with artists from Palestine Circus School, but due to escalating violence a tour to five different locations was abandoned. The circus company, which has toured and created shows in 50 countries over the past 20 years, turned the awful situation into a positive and created a theatre where they performed free shows for Palestinian children.

The Cornish and Palestinian circus schools combined to create Cirque Farah, which means Circus of Joy. Satya told CornwallLive: "Incandescence was very privileged to be invited to Palestine to create a show with the artists from the Palestine Circus School in Bizet. The show was then meant to tour around Palestine. Due to the escalated violence over the three-week period we spent in Palestine we never got to do the tour, as it was too dangerous. The conflict even entered the outskirts of Ramallah where we experienced first hand the Israel Armys orchestrated violence against the Palestine people. We were shot at and tear gassed leaving the school to get back to are accommodation."

Read more: Cornish circus wows the world but no one in Cornwall knows about them

"I cannot imagine what it must be like to live permanently under occupation with the most basic human rights being taken away from you. Just the thought of being prevented from swimming in the sea or moving freely though my country of birth is hard to imagine let alone adding the permanent fear of violence and aggression into the mix."

Satya added: "So we did our best to turn this awful situation into a positive. Turning the circus school into a theatre with whatever lights we could get our hands on, which to be honest was not a lot. We wanted a positive to come out of it all, especially for the Palestine artists. So we did the show as many times as possible in the small circus school tent for free for Palestinian children and ran as many circus master classes for the circus schools teachers so they could then pass these skills onto the younger students. The circus big top became the sanctuary for us all."

Incandescence's stunning larger than life theatrical circus shows are renowned across the world and theyve even worked with Beyonce and Take That. However, very few people in their home county know anything about the Cornish company. What started as a dream for Satya, who as a little girl from Sennen saw a trapeze artist at Cornish theme park Flambards, has grown into a hugely successful company which brings hundreds of thousands of pounds into the Cornish economy despite never staging shows on home turf.

Incandescences productions skilfully blend world-class circus performance with beautiful dance choreography, memorable theatrical characters and stunning costumes set to eclectic and diverse live music scores, creating unique performances. The company has been producing and touring circus productions both nationally and internationally from its family-run headquarters at Trewellard Industrial Estate at Pendeen near Penzance.

Highlights include creating a site-specific show in a Thailand jungle, a crane show in Egypt for Beyonces I Am tour, a custom show on a lighthouse out at sea and being the first company to dare to tour 34 people and two tonnes of freight across Bolivia.

Satya said: "If you live in the Gaza Strip, you cannot get out, you are trapped and it's the most densely populated and bombed place on the planet! I have had a Palestinian arts and social circus company from the Gaza Strip trying to get our help as they have seen on social media the work we have been doing in Palestine. But we cannot get in and they cannot get out."

She now wants to bring the Palestinian performers Incandescence worked with to Cornwall, to give them a taste of the freedom we enjoy. She said of the Palestine Circus School: "It is an amazing creative space run by some of the kindest compassionate people I have ever met. This gives their students a safe space amongst the daily turmoil they experience in this beautiful country. The students can show up be themselves, support each other and have a positive creative outlet. The school provides hope and opportunities for the youth. I left a piece of my heart in the circus school's big top with them to keep safe until I return to them or they find a way back to me."

"I want to put up a big top in Cornwall and share the joyful show we created together under the craziest conditions out here in Palestine. I want to bring them here to my hometown. I want to introduce these amazingly kind, talented, humble, resilient young artists to my beautiful Cornwall and all of the amazing people that live here. I want to introduce them to the ocean, for them to be able to swim freely in the sea. To walk on the beach, to climb, to explore our wonderful Cornwall. For them to be for a moment without fear and free."

She added: "I will be dreaming this into reality alongside the other UK and Palestinian artists. Anything is possible in the circus and the world at the moment needs more magic. If you would like to help us realise this dream and can help in anyway please do get in contact with us."

If you can help Incandescence, please email satya@incandescence.co.uk

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Cornwall circus performers shot at and tear gassed in Palestine as they help students - Cornwall Live

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