The London International Mime Festival returns to the capital for 16 days starting next week with a series of contemporary visual theatre performances from 15 to 30 January 2011 at the Southbank Centre, Camden's Roundhouse, the Barbican Centre, the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) and the Royal Opera House's Linbury Studio Theatre.

Directed by Joseph Seelig and Helen Lannaghan, the invitation only festival first presented work in 1977, showcasing circus-theatre, adult puppetry and animation, physical and object theatre. It has previously hosted artists such as Jacques Lecoq, Philippe Genty, Annie Fratellini, and Marcel Marceau and this year the festival includes work by artists from Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, UK and USA.

Spain's Teatro Corsario open this year's festival with La Maldicion de Poe or The Curse of Poe (15 to 19 January) based on the work of horror writer Edgar Allan Poe which promises audiences a hilarious if nerve-jangling experience. Also at the Southbank Centre is British aerial theatre company Upswing with the London premiere of Fallen (24 to 26 January), an exploration of what it means to be a woman and mother incorporating African spirituality with dance, aerial, circus, shadows and animation.

Two shows mark the festival’s first visit to the Roundhouse; Finnish and French company Circo Aereo present the UK premiere of Un Cirque Plus Juste, Jani Nuttinen's one-man circus show which creates a dreamy world with shadow play, illusion and skillful object manipulation from 20 to 22 January whilst British company Faulty Optic deliver Gavin Glover's Flogging a Dead Horse which starts 11km below the deepest ocean and investigates the similarities between seabed sludge and the human brain.

At the Barbican Centre, French circus-theatre company Compagnie MPTA and Mathurin Bolze present Men Du Goudron et des Plumes (26 to 29 January), inspired by John Steinbeck’s 1937 novel Of Mice and Men. Having won France’s most prestigious circus award, Le Prix du Cirque, in 2009 contemporary circus performer Mathurin Bolze combines thrilling acrobatics, bewitching lighting and heart-stopping tension to tell the story of five strangers thrown together on a vessel adrift between earth and sky.

Winners of a Fringe First award at the 2010 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, American performers Geoff Sobelle and Charlotte Ford present their dark ecological satire Flesh and Blood & Fish and Fowl, in association with Bite 11 from 19 to 29 January 2011.

The Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House is transformed into a garden for Le Jardin (28 to 30 January) when ex-Archaos members Jean-Paul Lefeuvre and Didier Andre bring their battle of wits around the flower pots plays out with expert circus skills and deadpan flair. The Linbury also plays host to festival favourite Josef Nadj of France who joins forces with musician Akosh Szelevenyi to perform Les Corbeaux 'The Crows' a duet featuring movement, free form jazz, barrel paint and during which Nadj becomes paint brush, bird, and the essence of blackness, evoking the spirit of the crow, a creature long-held in superstition.

Complicite original member Belgian Jos Houben comes to the Linbury for one night only on 26 January with a new version of his brilliant analysis of physical comedy, The Art Of Laughter where, during a sixty minute performance/lecture, he explains and illustrates just what makes people laugh.

At the ICA, Italian visual theatre company Anagoor present Tempesta, (28 to 30 January) exploring the disturbing world of Renaissance painter Giorgione, teacher of Titian, who died aged 33. Also at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Les Antliaclastes directed by Patrick Sims present Hilum, a micro comic-tragedy based on the cycles of the washing machine and set in the basement of a rundown museum of natural history from 22 to 26 January.


Full details of the London International Mime Festival's listings, as well as details of post-show discussions and workshops can be found at the festival's website mimelondon.com.