Today we speak to Charlie Wheeller of Barely Methodical Troupe, who are bringing their international award-winning show Bromance back to Edinburgh for the Fringe. Described as a ‘wonder to behold’ by the Metro, and a ‘jaw-droppingly magnificent show’ by the Stage, we are sure that Bromance will be on everyone’s ‘must-see’ list for 2019. Over to Charlie to tell us more about the story so far, and what awaits audiences this year…
Can you introduce yourself and your show?
Hello! I’m Charlie Wheeller, 27 and from Southampton, and I am one of the founders of Barely Methodical Troupe. This year we are pumped to be returning to the Fringe with our show ‘Bromance’, a look at male companionship and its limits. Onstage you will see me spin around with a Cyr wheel and perform acrobatics with my two real life bros – Beren D’Amico and Louis Gift.
What is the top reason people should see the show?
The company has been touring all over the world in the last five years, exploring and learning from so many different cultures. But it all started with this show right here at the Fringe, way back in 2014. We cannot wait to get back to our roots with this show – it has certainly developed since Edinburgh audiences last saw it. The concept of the show is very close to our hearts and we love spreading this positive message through our acrobatics.
What does a ‘successful Fringe run’ mean to you?
Firstly we need to have an audience, that’s always good! Then we need to have fun with them. That’s basically it really! We love our audiences and try to promote informality with them straight from the beginning, inviting them into our world of movement. There are not many better audiences than a wild Fringe festival one – we eagerly await the heckles and screams!
What 3 top tips have you got for Edinburgh Fringe first timers?
-Enjoy immersing yourself in it. This is very important. It is the biggest festival in the world and pretty much everyone in the whole city is here to enjoy art. Chat to people on the streets, ask them for recommendations and go off the beaten track.
-Pace yourself. It’s so tempting to rush everything but find your own pace; if you try to match all the leafleters on the Royal Mile, each night you will feel like you’ve run a marathon! Everyone crashes, and that’s ok. Just recharge and get back out there.
-Book and see what you want asap, rather than waiting for the last week. Tickets will be gone and your word of mouth at the end of the festival is much less useful for the artists than at the beginning.
Contemporary Circus and circus-crossover is enjoying huge success now in the UK. Yet when British audiences think of this type of circus act, they immediately think of French or Canadian shows. Is that perception now changing?
We can only hope. It goes in waves, and we have to accept that. More circus education is cropping up around the UK and we can definitely see that in the growing audiences when we tour to smaller cities. This education will inevitably bring new work and exciting collaborations with other art forms. One question we have been asked a lot when travelling is, ‘what does British Contemporary Circus look like?’ I wonder how soon audiences will be able to answer that question.
What key message do you hope comes across to your audiences?
In our sector we instinctively have to be very close, physically, which instantly breaks down nervous barriers and brings a trust between one another. We don’t use many words in the show, but hopefully this physical closeness can stimulate a verbal intimacy too, where one can open up with those around them and help people to help them. If we can invite this type of relationship to blossom between, not only men, but women too, then we will have succeeded.
Bromance has been an incredible success for the Barely Methodical Troupe! What has been your favourite moment of that success?
Bromance has really spring boarded our career together (and we love a springboard) and there are so many moments which we remember fondly. Our first time in Brazil, watching as hundreds queued up hours before the show to get their free tickets to come and watch the “British circus boy band”, the excitement as we played 3 weeks in a huge theatre Off Broadway around the corner from Times Square. But I think the most special memory has to be closing the Palestinian Circus Festival in their capital, Jerusalem. The director of the Circus School there gave a speech before explaining how important this festival was for the Palestinians and the roar from the audience was unforgettable. They took care of us and taught us so much about their situation under the occupation. We are incredibly lucky to have been welcomed and met by such magical people there. We will not forget that I am sure.
Your show requires a great deal of trust, friendship and confidence between performers. Touring too requires a lot of good humour and patience. A ‘bromance’ perhaps between the performers. Yet touring can sometimes mean good mates quickly become ‘brenemies’! How do you keep the bromance alive between you guys?
I feel so grateful to have been on this journey with my two best friends. We have truly developed a kinship amongst us that is unparalleled. When we get in a training space together the energy is thrilling, everything is possible. Travelling together, through unknown places has given us strength and understanding as a trio and such an enchanted comfort runs between us – we really can get through anything. Since touring ‘Bromance’ we have created more shows together and it feels special to have found the people who complete your puzzle so we can create new jigsaws together.
How are you promoting your show in the run up to the Fringe?
We love to create visual content mixing our acrobatics with a bit of charm so keep your eyes peeled for some fun stuff online : @barelymethodicaltroupe.
We haven’t performed this show in the UK for quite some time which means audiences have perhaps seen our 2nd or 3rd ‘album’ but not necessarily from where we came. This is quite exciting for us and we’re pumped to deliver them some fresh circus that’s barely methodical down to the core!
Lastly do you want to tell us where and when we can see the show?
‘Bromance’ will be playing at 3pm for an hour at Assembly’s Music Hall from 1st-25th August. This will be the biggest venue ‘Bromance’ has played at the Fringe and so we are ready to storm this Festival with what we do best!
Bromance will be performed daily at 15:00 from August 1st-6th, August 8th-11th, August 13th-18th and August 20th- 25th at the Assembly Rooms, Music Hall (Venue 20). Tickets available now from the Fringe Box Office.
All photos courtesy of Chris Nash