Featuring an international cast of jugglers and clowns, the new show will take over the Hippodrome’s cabaret space and comes with a bold concept from Maidment: “One of the things I wanted to do was push it to the extreme and whereas in a lot of cabaret nudity is done in a sexy scene or can sometimes be vulgar, I wanted it to be fun and almost a clown number. It is actually based on the performer’s nightmare of being suddenly naked on stage and what do you do?”
Before the fun starts, we spoke to the man himself about this highly anticipated show.
Hello! Let’s get the most burning question out of the way. What’s behind the title of Blanc de Blanc? Does it hint at themes in the show or is it something a tad more abstract like No Fit State’s similarly-titled Bianco?
I’d actually say it’s a bit of both. Blanc de Blanc is a type of champagne that uses only white grapes – the translation is literally “white on white” – and the show is themed around champagne. I also just like the onomatopoeic nature of words “Blanc de Blanc”. The sound of those words smashed together really reflects the comedy elements of the show – plus there are some great onomatopoeic words around champagne like “pop” and “fizz” that just perfectly sum up what Blanc is about. It really does pop and bang.
Musically, you have managed to incorporate into your shows a number of eclectic talents, not least American composer Sxip Shirey and London chap-hoppers The Correspondents. How much time do you spend scouting for new acts and what qualities do you look for?
You know a lot about our shows! I travel the world going to festivals and seeing shows; I see a lot of performances and performers. I’m always on the look out for exceptional people and astonishing talents that will be new to an audience. Blanc is no different.
Both Cantina and LIMBO caused quite a splash when they arrived in London in the Spiegeltent. Why have you gone for a more theatre-like space for this latest show?
We have created quite an installation in the tiny showroom at the Hippodrome. Just like LIMBO and Cantina were created for the Spiegeltent, I wanted to create a show that worked with the space. Blanc was created for places of celebration and a party space. When I was in London choosing the right theatre, I wanted to do something outside of the Spiegeltent and outside of a traditional theatre. Considering the rich circus and cabaret history of the Hippodrome from around 100 years ago, it made it the perfect space for Blanc.
Cantina had a strong Western/outback aesthetic which has been seen more recently in more recent shows like Cirque Alfonse’s Barbu, Empress Stah’s The Raunch and Company 2’s Scotch and Soda. What do you think is the appeal of that particular location and era?
I think circus has a timeless nature. It harks back to the old and, in some ways, lost times. Cantina wasn’t really set western times – it was maybe more of a 1920s world – but I think all those shows hark back to the timelessness of circus.
LIMBO received some criticism over how the female performers had little to do until the last quarter of the show. Was that a deliberate artistic choice?
The girls actually did the strongest and most amazing performances within LIMBO, but because of their amazing looks were perhaps pigeonholed. All of the performers had a physical as well as emotional journey in the show and I feel the girls themselves were truly amazing performers.
Do you feel that there is a common artistic thread running through all your shows?
The only artistic thread is the idea of wanting the audience to have a good time. It’s about a great live experience that undoubtedly has a visceral connection between the audience and performers. I want to leave the audience feeling they are under no misapprehensions that the performers are there directly and primarily for them and in Blanc de Blanc it’s all about the party.