Retired Shows

To list all firework displays, pyromusicals, special effects and amazing collaborative performance and sculpture projects would be too long and complex, however we are listing in chronological order some of the performance projects we are especially proud of and best illustrate the broad repertoire and artistic vision of the company.

2009. The Diving Bell

External Combustion took its audience on an amazing journey under the waves of Cardiff Bay to observe the wonderful creatures of the deep and witness the eruption of a new underwater volcano. No one got wet as the trip was done through the imagination and theatrical illusion using all our puppetry, lighting and video techniques along with the usual digitally controlled fireworks. As with all our shows, The Diving Bell is adaptable for most outdoor spaces and events.

2008. Tiger Tiger

A family fire show inspired by the stories of Roald Dahl. The show told the adventures of several animal characters and a giant Tiger, played out with light puppets, video, fire and fireworks choreographed to a unique soundtrack.

2007. Oh, To Be a Dragon & Dragon installation

“If I, like Solomon, …
could have my wish —
my wish — O to be a dragon,
a symbol of the power of Heaven — of silkworm
size or immense; at times invisible.
Felicitous phenomenon!”
Marianne Moore

The dragon has long been a creature of mystery; while dragons have widely been accepted as pure fantasy, there has always been an unsure element to their elusive existence, suggesting a corporeal life. The dragon has never been physically present in our world, yet despite this we still question their non-existence and find our selves drawn deeper into their mystery. For centuries, dragon existence has been the merging of human imagination, religious beliefs and popular folklore. Their existence has never been proved, yet the dragon remains tantalising close, bordering on the realm of fantasy and paranormal possibility.

A son-et-lumiere show, dramatically illustrating the myth of the dragon through music, narration, light, flame and fireworks. The show was full of surprises and a thrilling spectacle for all the family.

2006. Totem 2 (Lighthouse)

‘Totem 2’ was produced as a night time version of ‘Totem’ the daylight show. ‘Totem 2’ became larger, more complex and involved the use of crane flown lighting set pieces.

2005. Totem

The company presented totem. A 10 minute show, which tackles the problem of creating pyrotechnic spectacle in daylight. By rigging eight tall steel totem structures clad in fire rope in-groups across the site formed the ‘totem landscape’, in central position a giant arch acted as an armature for an array of mechanical, pyrotechnics and fire imagery. The totems produced rapid movements when activated and housed the bulk of the ground-based fireworks; complex pyrotechnic sequences fired, building up a bizarre burning pyrotechnic landscape across the whole site.

An ethereal soundscape drove the action and introduced each sequence. Developing from a ghostly beginning into a high tempo and noisy central section and ending on an exhilarating and intense fire, noise and glitter finale. The audience were left with an after image of burning structures as the soundtrack and energy wound-down.

2004. Terra Nova

The shows look and narrative reflected the theme of Scott’s leaving from Cardiff on his famous Antarctic voyage and exploration. The audience was greeted by a scene of stylised dock and shipyard structures rendered in white and lit.

The space transformed through lighting, the movement of cranes and the introduction of lantern structures, such as the Terra Nova figurehead carried by the procession.

The soundtrack builds in intensity. A ship begins to form in the centre of the space created from the components of the dock and shipyard structures gradually becoming whole as the last pieces are added. Alone, a magnificent white ship now occupies the space. With great pomp and celebration the Terra Nova is launched on its journey, silver and gold pyrotechnics adorn its masts and gunwales as aerial fireworks punctuate the music. The sounds of the sea and the creaking of rigging accompany the ship as it slowly roles and pitches as site and set lighting move through colour sequences. Ice flows are raised and illuminated, the Southern Lights produce fingers of light scrolling across the sky, culminating in a musical aerial firework finale.

2003. Garden of De-Lights

The image and symbolism of the sower of seed, growth, the garden and the gardener provided the core for a lyrical and theatrical performance of a scale and emotional impact suitable for very large audiences.

As is External Combustions style, we incorporated our whole repertoire of techniques and skills and new ideas to gain theatrical impact, using the performing space to its maximum. We produced a show that revealed action and images to the audience from all angles and positions, creating a landscape of fire and light that appeared from the darkness, above, to the sides and in the centre of the site.

2002. Winter Wonderland (aka Penguins on Ice)

The shows look and narrative reflected the chosen theme of winter wonderland. The audience was greeted by an ice landscape, which transform through lighting and the introduction of puppet penguin characters. The penguins tranquil world of fishing and skating was shattered by the arrival of an enormous ghost ship crashing through the ice, mayhem ensued!

2000. 200l... 'a space oddity'

‘2001’ was originally commissioned as a New Year’s eve celebration for Cardiff. Inspired by Kubric’s movie, the show enabled us to once again express our diverse range of techniques in theatre and spectacle.

Two astronaughts disembark from their hovering craft and slowly descend onto an alien planet. The planet reacts with irrupting volcanoes and the germinating and growing of enormous carnivorous plants. Eventually the visitors meet the planets most evolved life form and all is resolved through exchanges of symbols and gifts.

1999. Millennium Bug Ball

Cardiff’s Y2K millennium celebrations provided us with the opportunity to produce a show inspired by the global threat that all computers will fail once their clock try to change to the new date. Video, sound, music, lighting, light puppets, fire structures, pyrotechnic effects and fireworks were combined to create a stunning psycho/horror performance piece that was broadcast worldwide.

1991- onwards . Glastonbury Festival

For 20 years the company has pioneered the use of pyrotechnics and fireworks in collaborative shows in the Theatre and Circus area. Very difficult sites have been negotiated to bring amazing shows to thousands at one of the biggest festival in the world.

1988 - 1998

Crazy Daizy
Last Ship to Mars
Raise the Moon
Mad Hatters
The Holy Ghost Train (collaboration)
Flogging a Dead Horse (collaboration)
Stage on the Lake (collaboration)
Alton Towers (collaboration)
The Golden Submarine (collaboration)

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