Ethiopian brothers Bibi and Bichu Ethiopian brothers Bibi and Bichu
Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams the magical true tale of two Ethiopian brothers, who dreamed as little boys of joining the circus

24/04/2018 10AM | GUEST | Jacqueline Malcolm


Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams, is an unashamedly joyful mix of astonishing stunts, astounding circus skills and enchanting adventure. The show dramatises in surreal, often comic and mostly wordless ways, the magical true tale of two Ethiopian brothers, Bibi and Bichu who dreamed as little boys of joining the circus, and stages the journey of how their dream came true. Performed from the perspective of the young brothers, through the universal language of circus, the show mixes autobiographical and fictional narratives to tell how the Bibi and Bichu became world-class jugglers.


When they were little, Ethiopian brothers Bibi and Bichu dreamed of joining the circus. But the odds were stacked against them: despite the extraordinary talent that abounds in the country, the absence of circus in Ethiopia means that most acrobats never get to perform for a living.


At 13 and 14 years old, they discovered their extraordinary talent for juggling, and came to England in 1998 as part of one of the first Ethiopian troupes to tour Europe, performing to rave reviews and critical acclaim at Brighton Fringe. They returned in 1999 to make their home in England, and to pursue their shared childhood dream of joining the circus by participating in the UK's thriving circus scene. They trained at the National Centre for Circus Arts, where they met Sean Gandini, director of Gandini Juggling, who cast them in the Millennium Dome celebrations, Big (2000), and later, in Smashed (2012 and 2016) and Mozart's Glow (2017). Sean has been a friend and mentor to them ever since.


Over the years, Bibi and Bichu have met with more success than they ever dared hope for. Their performance credits range from the most family friendly to the radical to the prestigious: from the gleeful abandon of CBeebies' 'Justin's House' to the avant-garde experiments of Gandini Juggling, to the stunning English National Opera production of Akhnaten, which won an Olivier Award in 2017. Interspersing live gigs with numerous TV appearances, Bibi and Bichu have juggled on the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, on shows including ‘The Paul O'Grady Show’, ‘Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway’, and ‘Blue Peter’, breaking world records along the way. They were also resident jugglers at Giffords Circus from 2002-2016, touring for 11 seasons throughout the south of England with shows that told and retold stories through the medium of circus. And they’ve just wrapped the filming for Big Ears, Tim Burton's live action remake of Dumbo, in which they'll feature heavily in the circus scenes.


Bibi and Bichu’s future plans include expanding the cast and scaling the show up even higher by bringing over more acrobats from Circus Wingate. Long term plans for the company also include holding workshops for refugees, and, in the more distant future, setting up a circus school for budding circus artists in the UK’s migrant communities.


 

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