Interview with Danny Prosser about VOLT

After VOLT #5 at the end of last week we thought we’d chat to Danny Prosser about the event and how it has grown over the last couple of years.

Alongside having a magnificent Technicolor rain coat (eat your heart out Joseph) Danny is Ausform’s Assistant Producer. He works with Lina B Frank (Director) on Ausform’s circus artist development programme: VOLT and with Hannah Sullivan (Producer) on Ausform’s flagship project: the Micro-Fest. As an artist he is one third of performance company Massive Owl.

What is VOLT Circus Scratch Night?

VOLT Circus Scratch Night is an evening of the very beginning of ideas from 4-5 artists. It is an evening for ideas that tread the line between circus and other art forms. It is not an evening for ideas with a fully conceived lighting design or an elaborate set. It is not for ideas with fireworks or a smoke machine. This is an evening for very raw ideas.
VOLT Circus Scratch Night is an evening collaboratively produced by Ausform and Circomedia. It is a meeting between the circus artists and an audience. An audience full of their own ideas, responses and feelings. This meeting all leads up to the most important moment: the feedback. Held by facilitators and conducted in small and informal groups, the artists get to hear the audiences own ideas, responses and feelings of their work. Then hopefully they can go away knowing how many fireworks they might need or if they even need a smoke machine!

Steven Allen/Ausform/Graham Burke

What makes you excited about VOLT?

I get the most excited about the different people who make up that room, on that night. As well as working in a producing role, I also work as a performance maker. I don’t make circus, so I am interested and excited by what ways the practice of circus can be prodded and poked about by the other practices sitting in that room. I find myself most interested in what a visual artist or a performance artist might have to say but also what a gardener or a mental health worker might want to say about the work too. We work hard to have a really interesting group of people in that room. We do that because we really believe in the moment when an artist presenting work makes that face when someone has said something they could have never thought about, and it happened because they don’t do the same thing as they do. I get excited about that face.

Why is dialogue between audience and artists valuable?

As a performance maker and someone interested in working with others to help them make their work I value, maybe above all, the dialogue between artists and audiences. I think it benefits both parties equally. I think it is so valuable for artists to be able to test ideas through their process of making. From the very beginning where they might not be sure of an idea at all, till the very end when they are fine tuning. It is also valuable for audiences to be a part of shaping someones work, their practice and subsequently the wider context that surrounds it, to voice what they want to see more or less of from the work of artists. It also a moment for all of us to educate each other in what is going on, what kind of work in being made and where we all might want it to go!

How have you seen circus in Bristol change since the start of VOLT?

Bristol has a very strong circus community, I experience it through working with Ausform and with Circomedia. I sit very closely to the work, seeing it written in an application, to seeing it in tech and finally presented to an audience. But something that always creeps up on me is noticing the different shifts and changes in the audiences who keep coming to see these experiments in circus practice. I have really began see a change in the way Bristol’s circus audience, especially the circus community, are viewing this new emerging cross circus interdisciplinary practice. Its most exciting to me when I’m at a theatre performance I overhear a surprised conversation of 2 students at Circomedia saying “I want to do that, and I do it like this! How do I…?”

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