It’s back and bolder than ever – VAULT Festival 2018, running until 18 March 2018. Theatre editor Daniel Perks catches up with director Laurane Marchive, bringing Becoming Shades to this year’s festival:

VAULT Festival 2018 – it was one of my Theatre Picks to kick off the year. It’s London’s biggest arts festival, taking place in a series of subterranean tunnels beneath Waterloo station, as well as expanding into the nearby Waterloo East Theatre and Network Theatre. Now in its sixth year, it promises to be an eight-week cultural nerve centre, inviting audiences to over 300 shows.

Here at Miro Magazine, we are incredibly excited by the biggest offering that The Vaults has ever seen – we have already picked our top shows that should not be missed! Throughout the festival, we will be profiling some of the shows playing this year – getting to know the theatre companies and performers that are bringing work to London’s version of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Next up in our Spotlight feature is Becoming Shades, which plays VAULT Festival until 18 March 2018. I caught up with director Laurane Marchive:

Describe Becoming Shades in three words.

Dark. Immersive. Circus.

Is this your first VAULT Festival performance experience?

We took part in the VAULT Festival last year for a week long run of Becoming Shades. It was a shorter, 60-minute version and we had a smaller cast and set up. But it all went very well, we sold out our run, got very good reviews and received an award for outstanding new work. The team behind VAULT Festival are amazingly supportive and great to work with so we’re very happy to be back.

Who else are you most looking forward to seeing while at the VAULT Festival?

Well we are doing two nights of immersive circus parties based on the movie Labyrinth on the 2 -3 March so technically I’m also looking forward to seeing it!

But apart from that so far I haven’t had the chance to check out any of the other shows because we’ve been so busy with Becoming Shades. I definitely want to see Attention Seeker by Lolo Brow because I love her as a performer. I also want to see The Thing That Came To Dinner because one of our cast members is also in it and I want to see what she’s been up to when she’s not working on Becoming Shades. I’d also love to check out Neverland by The Guild Of Misrule, because we share the same space at the Vaults and we’ve been working closely with them in the run up to both our shows.

Image courtesy of Maximilian Webster

Who or what are your inspirations?

Coffee? Haha no, ok.

I consume a lot of stories on a daily basis, I watch a lot of movies, read a lot of books, I try and go and see shows as often as possible, circus mostly but also cabaret and immersive experiences – watching other performers, writers, directors and companies do their thing is very inspiring. But I guess what keeps me going personally is the desire to blend all these different styles and disciplines to tell stories in a new way, to create experiences that are slightly different from what I’ve seen before, that are immersive in a sensory, abstract, dreamlike way, with circus and images at the core.

What are the future plans for Becoming Shades?

The dream is to take over a warehouse, somewhere on the outskirts of London and to make it ours. To create a whole world made of light and décor that people can explore and experience, so that we have total creative control over what audiences can and can’t see and over how they travel through the story. It would have to be somewhere with really high ceilings so we can have crazy circus and lots of fire, and be really big so people can get lost in it.

So, that’s the dream, but actually it’s never been closer to being a reality so we are definitely on the right track. Watch this space, as they say….

Image courtesy of Lidia Crisafulli

What is the best production you have seen in the last 12 months?

We produced a cabaret show called Crash in the summer, which I personally think was great because all the performers were really at the top of their game, but that’s probably a bit shameless of me so…

I really liked Staged by Circumference, which I saw in Jacksons Lane last Summer. It was a really cool show where they had a platform rigged at the centre of the stage and three performers constantly trying and managing to balance on it, but in the knowledge that any small movement could tip it, so they really had to work together. The show was really clever in lots of different ways and really tried taking circus in a new direction, playing with people’s expectations of what a circus performance should be. I like shows that try and say something different with their discipline. Whether they fail or succeed doesn’t matter to me, so long as they are attempting something new by playing with form or content.

Image courtesy of Maximilian Webster

Is there anything else you want to highlight about Becoming Shades?

I think for me the most important thing I would like to tell audience members when they come and see the show is:

let go, let yourself float, enjoy the dreamscape

Our show is immersive in a sensory way, it’s a blending and colliding of images and sounds, where you witness memories and cycles repeating themselves. There is no dialogue, there is a plot but you are not expected to necessarily understand all of it (it might be a good idea to check out the original story of Persephone beforehand to give you some help) – again I’d stress it’s about letting go and experiencing the different images and vignettes and perhaps reflecting on them afterwards.

Becoming Shades is a river of sound and visuals where we use circus to tell a fragmented story in a very intimate way. That’s what makes the show so unique, so I guess if you want to experience something you haven’t come across before, do come and join us in the underworld!


Director: Laurane Marchive

Composer: Sam West

Producer:  Edward Gosling and Ilai Szpiezak for Chivaree Circus and Upstage Creative

Design: Carlotta Caball; Jessica Hung Han Yun (lighting); Lack Lune (costume); Sam West (sound)

Cast: Rebecca Rennison; Alfa Marks; Anna McDonnell; Molly Beth Morosa; Rosie Bartley; Isobel Midnight; Jessica Pearce

Musician: Becks Johnstone; Sam West

Becoming Shades plays as part of VAULT Festival 2018 until 18 March 2018. For more information or to book tickets, please visit the website.