Sage Bachtler Cushman: Otus takes circus and theatre to new heights

November 23, 2016 by

Having wowed audiences internationally, Cardiff-based artists Sage Bachtler Cushman, originally from Oregon, USA and Hugo Oliveira of Porto, Portugal, are on their way back to Wales with a new show that takes the dizzy heights of circus skills to a whole new level.

The two performers moved to Wales in 2012 when they were hired for the creation of NoFit State Circus’ award-winning show Bianco, with whom they performed and toured for three consecutive seasons.

With their own company, Oliveira & Bachtler they have developed the new theatrical circus and dance show Otus. It opened in Teatro Municipal de Vila Do Conde in Portugal last week to critical and audience acclaim and is now about to tour Wales.


Can you tell us about your links with Wales?

Hugo Oliveira and I moved to Wales in 2012 when we were hired for the creation of NoFit State Curcus’ award winning show Bianco, with whom they performed and toured for three consecutive seasons. Although twe continue to work internationally, we have based ourselves in Cardiff. In Wales we have performed, created, taught and directed with companies such as NoFit State Circus, Citrus Arts and the Wales Millennium Centre, where we received support from the Incubator programme. After forming Company Oliveira & Bachtler, we started working closely with Coreo Cymru, who is currently supporting the development Otus.


How did this new work come about?

We met during the creation of NoFit State Circus’ award winning show Bianco. Over several seasons we got to know each other’s performance, work ethics and and personality. During a break between tours the we were awarded support, funding and presentation from the Wales Millennium Centre through the Incubator program. This was the beginning of Otus, currently touring through Wales and England. After a final season on the road with Bianco, we decided to form Company Oliveira & Bachtler. At this point we received a small grant and support from arts consortium Careo Cymru, Chapter, NoFit State and Arts Council of Wales to present work in front of an international panel. Upon presentation, Company Oliveira & Bachtler received further funding and support from the arts consortium to continue the development.  Coreo Cymru is currently sponsoring the tour of Otus through Wales.The company has also received funding from the Arts Council of England and support from the Black-E, Cia Um por 1, Cace Cultural do Porto and Teatro Municipal Vila de Conde.


How has the show been received in Portugal?

Company Oliveira & Bachtler received a warm response and great reviews from their presentation in Portugal.


Who do you think it will appeal to in Wales, perhaps NoFitState audiences and/or others?

With ambition to create a unique and multi-faceted physical language, Oliveira & Bachtler believe it is in the exploration of many stage disciplines that they will find their own form of artistic expression. Aiming to engage the interest of those who appreciate, theatre, circus, art, design, movement, dance and life.


What can audiences expect from the show?

Two Beings living in an abstract world, Otus is rooted in human nature. Here is a unique perspective, a glimpse into their lives, motivations, relationships and habits. Utilising circus, physical theatre, movement, clown and set design Otus explores tension, the space between characters, objects and the wooden world in which they reside. With precarious piles of cut wooden planks, a rope, table and trapeze, their peculiar domain is set. Immersed in their own nuances and rendered through acrobatics, juggling, rope, trapeze and staff manipulation, their world unfolds.


Is suitable for all age groups?

Our ambition is to create work rooted in human nature and suitable for any age


What do you think about the changes and development of “circus skills” with and within theatre and other genres?

It seems that if you find a way to simultaneously agitate and compliment one technique with another technique something interesting happens.

Whether contemporary or classical, it is exciting to see multiple disciplines used simultaneously as a means to express human nature. Circus has been used in theatre for many years, take a look at Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, both of whom were tremendously physical, utilising clown and acrobatics theatrically. Then we have contemporary companies such as DV8, Gekko, Zimmerman & DePerrot and Jame Thierree, all of which are utilising dance and/or circus as part of a physical vernacular with which a narrative unfolds, no matter how surreal the narrative.

Major changes and developments in art often come in the forms of technique, reflection and time period… By this I mean, a reflection of a person/company on what is happening currently and how they utilise the techniques available to them to represent their ideas about the world. Buster Keaton, Charley Chaplin, DV8, LaLaLa Human Steps, Gekko, Kidd Pivot, Zimmerman & DePerrot and James Teirrieree are all great examples of people/companies who reflect to the populous the techniques and the politics of their time using multiple mediums in order to express their perspective…. Each one assembling very similar elements, each in their own way, which consequently changed the performance mould during a their time…. Its their individual combination of technique, their perspective and the specifics of a period of time that make each one of these people/companies unique.

It has never been easier to see what other people are creating, as well as what other mediums are offering to the performance world. With travel and media readily available it seams that the expansion of creativity, ingenuity and quality is inherent, giving dance, theatre and circus a technical and innovative boost.


How would you like audiences to feel by the end of the show?

Recognised… It would mean that we have found just a bit of what we set out to create if people felt that they were some how recognised, understood and reminded of humanity….  hopes, failures, fears, dreams, relationships, triumphs, self doubt… this is common ground and inherently a special place.


How would you describe the show?

a human conundrum, simply and beautifully complex.


What is next particularly in relation to what Welsh audiences may be able to see?

We hope that this is the beginning of a new relationship with Wales as Company Oliveira & Bachtler. Having toured extensively through Wales with other companies several years ago and are really looking forward to presenting our work in Wales!




Images:  J Pedro Martins, Ashleigh Georgia



The tour opens in Newport at the Riverfront on December 1, Theatre Brycheiniog, Brecon (including a public workshop at 4pm), December 3, the Black-E in Liverpool, December 7, 8 and the Dance House/Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff on December 10.




Riverfront, Newport. Thursday, December 1. 8pm.  £12.50/ £10.50. 01633 665579

Theatre Brycheiniog, Brecon. Saturday, December 3. (Public workshop at 4pm). 7pm. £12/£10. 01874 611 622

The Black-E, Liverpool, December 7, 8. 8pm. £12/£10 0151 709 5109

Dance House/Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, Saturday, December 10.

8pm. £12/£10. 02920 636 464



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