Dark Art Circus waits till it’s dark for Shuffle Festival show at Mile End

Dark Arts founder Peter Kennedy accompanies himself on accordion

Dark Arts founder Peter Kennedy accompanies himself on accordion - Credit: Dark Arts

An alternative ‘Dark Arts’ circus pitches its tent in “a cemetery near you” in London’s East End on Saturday.

Dark Arts audio-visual 'wizard' Sam Holloway

Dark Arts audio-visual 'wizard' Sam Holloway - Credit: Dark Arts

Dark Arts begins 9pm—as it gets dark—as part of the Shuffle Festival being staged at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park in Mile End.

It is a wandering cabinet of curiosities, a literary sideshow boasting scribes, poets and storytellers set to a magical, musical soundtrack.

The collective is the brainchild of 47-year-old novelist Peter Kennedy from Poplar, who created “a platform for unorthodox performers” after being disillusioned with London’s ‘spoken word’ scene.

“I self-published my novel Fishermen’s Tales, which I launched at the Prospect of Whitby pub in Wapping last year, and have been reading it around London accompanying myself on the accordion,” the father-of-two explained.

Dark Arts performers Jason Pilley and Oktawia Petronella (violin)

Dark Arts performers Jason Pilley and Oktawia Petronella (violin) - Credit: Dark Arts


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“But I didn’t feel I was fitting in alongside slam poets and stand-up comedians.

“So I gathered like-minded acts to form Dark Arts Circus.

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“Tower Hamlets Cemetery with its surreal Alice in Wonderland vibe fits the bill.”

His circus has violinists and electronic audio-visual artists creating an unsettling backdrop for the spoken word.

The collective has already appeared deep under ground in the shaft of Brunel’s world-heritage Thames Tunnel between Wapping and Rotherhithe, has told Winter’s Tales in a Bethnal Green churchyard and performed a candlelit promenade in Stoke Newington’s Abney Park Cemetery.

Saturday’s performances are at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park in Southern Grove, a spook or two from Mile End station — Underground station, of course.

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