Video: Step inside Gossamer Thread’s Curious Cabaret at Ip-art

Daisy Black and Alex McAleer of Gossamer Thread. Picture: katie Gwilt-Cox

Daisy Black and Alex McAleer of Gossamer Thread. Picture: katie Gwilt-Cox - Credit: Archant

Entertainment writer Wayne Savage steps inside the Curious Cabaret with IP-art duo Daisy Black and Alex McAleer and looks ahead to this year’s Celebrate Ipswich festivities

Contortionist Bendini

Contortionist Bendini - Credit: Archant

Ironically, Daisy’s plans for some of her trademark aerial antics are slightly up in the air at the moment.

Daisy and Alex of Gossamer Thread's Vaudeville Co, Benjamin Bloom and JJ of Festival Asylum. Picture

Daisy and Alex of Gossamer Thread's Vaudeville Co, Benjamin Bloom and JJ of Festival Asylum. Picture: Lucy Taylor - Credit: Archant

“With aerial stuff, the first thing one would do when putting on a show is go into the venue; obviously we can’t do that because the venue doesn’t exist yet. So yes, that’s been logistical fun, trying to work that out but I think we’re nearly there,” she laughs. “It will be amazing if we can do that.”

Gideon Conn

Gideon Conn - Credit: Archant

Gossamer Thread’s Vaudeville Co is taking over Big Top, Christchurch Park, Ipswich, for a night of Curious Cabaret on July 4 as part of IP-art.

“The stuff I perform, obviously aerial, fire, involve a lot of training and a lot of practice because those things you really don’t want to get wrong.”

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From a family of artists and showmen, Daisy developed a head for heights by working as a theatre lighting technician at Cambridge’s Corn Exchange before joining the circus and scaling the dizzy heights of the big top.

“That involves climbing up very high, which meant when I came to do circus stuff it wasn’t too much of a problem because I’d already got used to being up very high in precarious positions,” she laughs.

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The accomplished hula hooper and mother-of-one then turned her sights to sideshow and vaudeville. She’s writing a novel about it, having spent the last year on UEA’s creative writing MA. That’s when she’s not writing her dissertation or rehearsing alongside her partner of six-and-a-half-years Alex for forthcoming shows in Manchester, Berlin, Stockholm and at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Alex has been performing as a mind reader for more than six years, entertaining corporate and cabaret audiences across the UK. He is also a successful writer within the magic world, having written several books on his own techniques and lecturing to mentalists, psychology students and even magicians at the Magic Circle.

Last year they decided to pool their talents and have created an entire cast of eccentric vaudevillian characters including masochistic lovebirds Carny and The Tramp, who have a penchant for dangerous displays of public affection; delicate aerialist Lily Gild and supernatural mime Ernst, among others, all curated by the rarely seen Mr Gossamer Thread.

All these will collide in a two-person show which is currently in development; some will make an appearance at Curious Cabaret in Ipswich.

Branded as a heady blend of circus and vaudeville it features live music, mind-reading, razor-blade eating, contortion, hula hoops, Victorian automatons that come to life and fall in love (just don’t expect a happy ending); a pinch of burlesque and a few surprises.

“They’ll be lots of audience participation (with me),” says Alex. “I literally grab two people and read their minds essentially. It’s the contemporary style of mind-reading, I’m not a psychic; it’s more psychological illusions.

“After that I’ll teach someone how to be a mind reader and they will read my mind... hopefully. That’s the intention at least,” he laughs. “It’ll be a special night out because you’re going to a big top and seeing something unusual.”

“We hope audiences are in for a treat,” adds Daisy, fresh from performing at the London Burlesque Festival, the largest of its kind in the world. “It’s going to be a variety-cabaret show with special guests, a lot of different stuff.”

The special guests include the delectable and dangerous Natalya Umanska, last seen at last year’s IP-art Speigeltent, with some new tricks; contortionist extraordinaire Bendini, who I last saw at the Ipswich Regent squeezing through two tennis racquets in his underpants; Lucy Enskat from Hocus Pocus Theatre and musical maestro Benjamin Bloom all compered by the master of badinage Paul Preston Mills.

Gossamer Thread’s Curious Cabaret comes to the Big Top at 8pm. Other big top acts include Festival Asylum who present an evening of live music and cabaret performance fresh from the independent festival scene from 8pm on July 5 and acoustic songwriter and festival favourite Gideon Conn performs at 2pm on July 6.

Following hot on the heels of this year’s Ipswich Arts Festival, August will see the fun continue as Celebrate Ipswich takes over our streets.

Staged by Ipswich Central and Ipswich Borough Council, it runs from August 19-26.

The weeklong celebration will be All About Ipswich, with a series of events in the town centre; full details of which, along with some special offers, will be revealed soon.

Over the August bank holiday weekend of August 23-26 the Waterfront will be a hive of activity as the town celebrates its rich and colourful maritime history.

This year’s Maritime Ipswich festival ties in with the 200th anniversary of Captain Broke, who was born just outside Ipswich and lived at Broke Hall, Nacton.

During the war against America, which started in 1812, he commanded the HMS Shannon. Broke introduced training for his crew, especially gunnery; which led to a decisive victory and him being presented with many honours - one of which was a cup presented to him by the Free and Easy Club of Ipswich.

A display about this victory can be found in the Ipswich Maritime Trust window on the Waterfront and will be a must visit for all history lovers over the weekend.

There will be live music, food stalls, a craft market and much more and the chance for visitors to learn more about Ipswich’s maritime past with historical re-enactments happening across the weekend.

“With Maritime Ipswich going from strength to strength last year, we are delighted to support this fantastic celebration of everything that is great about East Anglia’s waterfront town centre. With the celebration set to include fantastic events, I would encourage everyone to come along to as many of the events as possible and join us in celebrating Ipswich,” said Paul Clement, chief executive of Ipswich Central.

The maritime celebration also includes the annual Ipswich Beer Festival, which will be in full flow from the Thursday afternoon right through until the Monday.

Bryony Rudkin, Ipswich Borough Council’s Culture portfolio-holder, added: “The Maritime Ipswich Festival is the latest in a fantastic year of entertainment in the town. We are putting on a programme of entertainment for all the family. Hot on the heels of IP-art and Pulse, we are getting ready to welcome tens of thousands more visitors to the waterfront.”

For more information about the free Celebrate Ipswich event, check our online entertainment pages and

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