Twenty Years of Tumbling

Boisterous, unpretentious and with a dark sense of humour – it's the circus act for Belfast. And two decades in, performers Ken and Tina may have found the perfect balance

Mesmerising comedy, clowning, theatre, trapeze, tightrope and dance acrobatics will be on offer in Belfast this weekend when the Tumble Circus rolls into town.

Featuring Dublin-born Ken Fall and Sweden's Tina Segner, the company is staging two different shows at the MAC in the Cathedral Quarter on May 26, 27 and 28 for your viewing entertainment.

'Unsuitable is a more grown up kind of show, comedy, circus and then we have matinees shows which is family fun, cabaret circus shows, comedy circus,' Fall explains.

It all started for him and Tina two decades ago when the talented pair of performers met in Dublin in 1997 and started juggling together before putting together shows and touring. Initially the Belfast-based alternative circus duo were called the Tumbledriers but they dropped the driers bit and are now just known as Tumble Circus.

Fall (43) has been living in Belfast for 20 years and working over that time with Segner to bring their vision of circus to audiences all over Europe, doing indoor and outdoor shows with their own big top.

Tumble Circus 2

'We have performed in Germany, Iceland, Canada, Australia, France, loads of places,' he says. 'We have done one person shows, solos shows touring around theatres in Europe and Ireland. We have also done group shows of five or six people – we are an alternative circus, not a traditional circus.'

So how does someone decide they want to be a circus performer then? It seems learning one simple skill is what got Ken hooked and it blossomed from there.

'Someone taught me to juggle when I was about 20 years of age and I thought this is what I want to do with my life,' he recalls, 'so I did and then ended up going to circus school.'

From circus school in Bristol, he then came over to Belfast for a course for adults, an advanced course for professionals to learn circus skills. In the time since, Tumble Circus have taken their special brand of performance to fringe festivals and beyond.

'A lot of the shows we have done over the years, touring fringe festivals a lot, performing in Edinburgh,' says Fall. 'We have performed in Europe, so over there it's a big art form in places like France, they have a much more diverse style of circus. We're really inspired by that, we have been doing that kind of work for a long time.'

Tumble Circus Family Cabaret

Culture NI readers may have seen Tumble Circus perform in the city before, as part of the yearly arts festivals at Queen's and in the Cathedral Quarter. 'We also had our own big top at Christmas at Writers' Square which was great.'

So, if dark humour and spectacular circus performance sounds like your idea of a good time, then Ken and Tina invite you to step right up for one of this weekend's shows.

'We are a unique kind of circus. We try to have comedy and a sense of humour of what Belfast is. It's a circus for Belfast: non-pretentious, good fun, dark comedy and boisterous.'

Unsuitable is being billed as 'explosive adult circus comedy event with confused jugglers, dangerous aerialists, dispirited clowns and broken acrobats. It will make you gasp, make you laugh and make you believe that people matter'. Tickets for the show on May 26 at 7.45pm are priced £12.50 - £25.00.

Meanwhile, Tumble Circus: Family Cabaret is described as an astounding new show that is smashing the boundaries of cabaret for families. It is on May 27 and May 28 at 2pm and tickets are priced at £12.50 for adults and £9.00 for children aged five and over. Contact the MAC box office on 028 9023 5053 or go to www.themaclive.com.