In May 2020 Diego and Laura finished professional training in Carampa, where they specialized together in acrobatic carriages, rope (Laura) and Chinese pole (Diego). They currently live in Nîmes (France) where, after having continued their professional training at CADC Balthazar, their project is accepted into the “PEPS” accompaniment device.
The personal journeys of each one and their concerns about social movements and the approach of culture to rural areas lead them to this first creation. They created the company Mala Brigo wanting to share their first long creation, De Algodón y Caucho, through the squares and streets of the different regions of the peninsula. They work on several occasions together with Martí Soler, an artist from the Baro d’evel company, who offers his artistic support to the project.
Hi, I’m Laura Abrain and I’m part of the circus company Mala Brigo. I’m from Vitoria and my partner Diego and I created the company 2 years ago and at the moment we are finishing the process of creating our first show called De algodón y caucho.
This show was born at the beginning of the pandemic, when we left the carampa school, we had started to investigate with the rope and the chinese pole. I am specialized in rope, and Diego in chinese pole, we made a piece with a bearing to hook the rope to the crown of the chinese pole and at the same time that we were doing this investigation, we found some baskets, which are called “capazos”, they are made in the area where Diego comes from, in the mountains of Palencia. And that’s when we started to play and discover that it could have many possibilities for research, and that’s where the first ideas started to come from. And at the same time, our interest in decentralizing culture and getting closer to rural areas, so little by little all the ideas were linked to end up creating this show.
How we planned the creation process:
We are accompanied by the Balthasar school, which is in Montpellier, France, and this accompaniment is aimed at emerging artists and companies. They have helped us to create the company, but also to plan a little bit the creative process to carry out a project that is present. So they have helped us to look for residencies, to make the dossier, to decide and foresee which steps to take, in what order, with what preferences, etc.
And I think the first steps we took were to gather all the ideas we had, talk, reflect, write, improvise, create short numbers, and once we had created different numbers, we got together with Martí Soler, who is the person who did the external look and Martí helped us to put in order the different parts, the different materials we had created, to choose, to create new material as well. And nothing else, now we are finishing. Last summer, we presented the outdoor version in the street, and this year our aim is to do the adaptation in theaters. So now we are looking for residencies in theaters, looking for a technician to help us create the lights, to have the indoor version as well, so the steps we have to take now are to look for locations, send the dossier, send our creation objectives and little by little.
So far the residencies we have done have all been different, there have been residencies that we have used to do technique, to investigate our own solos, to investigate movement, disciplines, etc. And in other residencies we have invited people that we thought were interesting to do a workshop for us, above all we have done dance, which is like an open workshop to investigate, to have new tools, and in the future to use that in future residencies or in training sessions. And other residencies have been used to meet with MArtí, who is the person who takes an external look at us and fix, choose, teach, do residency outings. So I think this is how we organize ourselves.
How we find the residences:
As I have already said, having a dossier of creation, where we explain a little of what the show is about, in what moment of creation we are, who we are, what are our objectives and ask for the dates we are interested in, ask what procedures we have to carry out to be able to do a residency and nothing and be there, ask, write, call, and go for it. I think you have to know that there are different spaces, there are spaces like theaters, which are more difficult to get to do residencies, there are circus schools where you can ask for residencies during the holidays, tents, or spaces that are dedicated to offering residencies. And I think it is interesting to try them all.
How do we manage the administration and diffusion of the circus:
Regarding the administration, we have been working for a year with an association called Pasca, in which we are with more companies, both circus and dance and theater, and the association of Pasca is in charge of the administrative part. Let’s say that we form a team, we are the artistic team, we are in charge of the diffusion, and she is in charge of the contracts, contacting the organizers, making all the declarations, and all that.
As for the diffusion, we are the ones who do it, for the moment, and nothing, we have made a teaser, we took advantage of the residency we had to record images and then make a promotional video, we have the dossier, and lists of festivals or places that could interest us, town councils, councilors of culture, theater spaces, and nothing, it’s about writing an email and writing to them and calling them and being there.
Something that is also interesting, once you get dates, I think it’s interesting to be able to invite programmers to see your show, in case they like it and want to hire you in their programmes.
Currently, as we are in this accompaniment programme, which I don’t think I have said, which is called PEPS, and in this accompaniment they give us an annual grant per project and company, but apart from this grant we have not asked for any other subsidy, at the moment with what we have it is enough to take small steps, this grant helps us to buy costumes, to buy structures if we need them,
now we are thinking of making a floor, a stage, and well, each company decides what to do with that money, for the moment we have only bought a sound system, but it is very good because when you are an emerging company and you have not yet started to work, it gives you a push to be able to have autonomy, to go to act where you want with all your material, without having to ask for a lot.
How did we learn to write a good dossier:
Well, we are still learning, I think it’s a matter of time, of trying, of doing, of rewriting, of rereading, of showing other people and getting their corrections and feedbacks,… yes, in principle that, doing and asking and seeing other dossiers from other companies.
What has been the most difficult part of your project:
I think that to manage, to create a company, a show and to make something like this to be able to live from it is a lot of work, and I think that the most difficult thing has been to manage the process of creation with my personal life, because in the end I think that it becomes your life, in a given moment, during a period, and you have to learn how to disconnect, you have to learn not to forget that it is something you do for your pleasure, to enjoy, not to forget to enjoy it, to overcome fears, insecurities, and above all to manage relationships with work colleagues, when you share so much time with a person, you have to be very careful about how we communicate, about the time we spend together, that we share, that it is not just work, … . and I think that yes, those are the difficulties that go there, they are learnings, and but well, it’s interesting to pay attention and care so that it doesn’t drag you into dynamics that don’t make you feel good.
How would you describe a normal working day:
Well, it’s not an easy question because lately I haven’t had a very clear routine for a year now, it could be that one week I’m at home, another week I go to a residence, another week I go to do a training, I think it’s a job that requires a lot of movement, being here and there, It’s a bit of a nomadic life, which makes it difficult to commit to things that can be routine, to projects outside the circus, which is very cool because it gives you a lot of freedom, it makes me feel uprooted here and there, but sometimes I miss having a routine to be able to plan better.
But in general, in a week we have a company work meeting, to distribute the work we have in the office, and set the objectives for the week or month, I try to train, 4 or 5 days a week 2 or 3 hours and every day we have to check the mail, pending mails, tasks that are left, check the dossier, all these things that we don’t like to do so much, and at the same time, I’m living in a collective space, where more circus artists from other companies live, and I also dedicate part of my time to this collective project, to the maintenance of the space and activities outside my own project, which also makes me feel good, to dedicate my energy to something that is not only mine.
What would I have liked to know before creating a company:
Well last year, we created, we were in France, in accompaniment with the school, and they told us, the first step is to create an association, we created the association, but then we realized that it was a lot of work to manage the company and ourselves to manage the contracts, the declarations, all of that, to do it in a legal way, so we decided that at the moment we don’t have the capacity or the time or the strength to do something like that, and that’s why we decided to work with other people to do that work for us. Which, perhaps, if we had not been told before, we would not have created the association, but I also believe that it is a learning process, and that we are still learning, and little by little we are learning things and discovering things, so there is nothing that I would have preferred to know before, I think it is not an easy path, and we all know it, and we are all moving forward.
What advice would I give:
I think it is important to be surrounded by other artists, to share experiences, information, and tools. I think it is very important to support each other because it is a job where sometimes you can feel alone and it is not easy.
How do you manage to survive and combine everything:
Well, as I’ve said before, I think I’ve said it before, one day a week we try to have a company meeting, in which we review all the tasks we have pending, new objectives, planning for the week, training sessions, etc. I think this meeting is great to do, because we try to talk about work only in this meeting, so the rest of our free time we don’t talk so much about work and we can disconnect more.
Another type of meeting that we have started to do this year, we have done a first session, we have written a script to reflect on how we want to work, what work means for us, why we decided to do circus, why we decided to go on stage, if we have a philosophy as a company, why we decided to work together, what the company gives us, what it takes away from us, what it gives us to work with another person and what it takes away from us, etc. I don’t know, like enough reflections to be able to situate ourselves in a concrete situation of our company, and to do it in a conscious way, and to share reflections that maybe lead us to something new or something different, so that the company keeps moving forward, and that seems to me motivating too,
And the office, as there are two of us in the company, we divide tasks, and each one does his tasks, and I try to do a bit of work every day, so that it doesn’t pile up. And it’s very important to have holidays from time to time, yes, to do things that aren’t circus, to see people who don’t do circus, and to soak up new things, and to have parallel projects to the circus and to my work project. I think. Although sometimes it’s not easy.
Poetry, sincerity, illusion, and rural, Rurality, or land, yes, I think I would describe it like that.
The show was created in Spanish but as we live in France we have adapted it to French. There is a little bit of text and it has been a big challenge to prepare those texts in French. I think we managed to make people understand us, we think that it is not very important that they understand everything, because even if they don’t understand everything, it works. But the funny thing is that more than once, people have said to us, well, more to Diego than to me, that we have to see how we can do an accent so authentic and so well done. And actually Diego said, well, it’s because it’s the way I speak, they thought that maybe we were French and we were doing a Spanish accent from some lost, small, rural village, and well, it doesn’t seem funny that way.
And well, I think that’s all, and thank you very much for this invitation, this super project, and may it all go very well and we’ll see what happens with all this.