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A look ahead to Depart by Circa in Hull

PUBLISHED: 00:00 23 March 2017 | UPDATED: 17:42 24 March 2017

A scene from Depart by Circa whch comes to Hull General Cemetery in May Photo Tristram Kenton

A scene from Depart by Circa whch comes to Hull General Cemetery in May Photo Tristram Kenton

©Tristram Kenton

Entertainers are encouraging audiences in Hull to think about their city in a whole new light.

Depart includes aerial displays among the trees Photo Tristram KentonDepart includes aerial displays among the trees Photo Tristram Kenton

A city cemetery is the backdrop for a ‘spine-tingling’ performance by a world renowned circus company. The production called Depart by Circa involves more than 100 singers from Hull Freedom Chorus. The touring production which arrives at Hull General Cemetery in May is inspired by the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice and takes audiences on a path through the underworld in atmospheric locations. Circus artists dance above the heads of a roaming audience to create ‘genre-defying’ spectacles.

Concerns that a performance in the cemetery, which closed for burials in the 1970s, would be disrespectful have been expressed on social media but organisers defended their plans saying no graves would be disturbed and described the performance as ‘beautiful aerial dance’ and that it was a piece that ‘responded to cemeteries and what they are for’. Depart, which is supported by Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund, received its world premiere last summer at LIFT 2016 arts festival where it played in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, London.

Mark Ball, artistic director of LIFT described the show as ‘epic and emotionally charged’ bringing an array of exceptional circus artists, composers, choral arrangers and singers and dancers together to create a spine-tingling piece of work. ‘I hope Depart stays with audiences for as long as it has stayed with me,’ he said.

The production’s director Yaron Lifschitz added: ‘At the heart of the experience is the attempt to grasp the ungraspable - to connect ourselves with the very liminality that makes us human, to look up even as the long-buried lie beneath our feet. Depart is a meditation, a playground for the soulful, an art gallery without walls, a circus in search of transcendence and a hundred moments of joyous beauty. It is performed with respect and aims for rapture.’

Over 100 singers from Hull Freedom Chorus will be a part of the cast Photo Tristram KentonOver 100 singers from Hull Freedom Chorus will be a part of the cast Photo Tristram Kenton

The executive producer of Depart for Hull City of Culture 2017, Katy Fuller, said the production embodied the whole ethos of Hull 2017 by ‘bringing world class artists to the city, showcasing and developing local talent and using non-traditional venues to encourage people to look at parts of the city in a whole new light.’

Hull 2017 is also working with the National Centre for Circus Arts to help improve the skills of gymnastics and dance students to create ‘Circus Champions’. As part of a programme of development, mentoring, experience and training, the champions will be involved in Depart, leading the audience around the cemetery.

Tickets for the show, part of the Roots and Routes season at Hull UK City of Culture 2017 and which runs May 18th-21st are available from

Following the run at Hull’s General Cemetery, Depart will then travel to the Woodvale Cemetery at Brighton Festival (May 25th-28th) and Blackpool’s Stanley Park (June 1st-4th ).

Depart by Circa is described as spine-tingling Photo Tristram KentonDepart by Circa is described as spine-tingling Photo Tristram Kenton

Tell us what you think about the use of a cemetery as the backdrop to a circus or theatrical production. Is it desecration? Is it disrespectful? Email us or tweet @Yorkshire_Life

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