Posts Tagged ‘circa





Brisbane Festival, Circa & Quatuor Debussy

Powerhouse Theatre

10th – 15th of September 2013


Reviewed by Guy Frawley




The official blurb for Opus on the Powerhouse website labels this performance a ‘delicate and savage dance of chamber music and contemporary circus’ so as you can imagine I wasn’t quite sure what exactly I was going to be getting as the lights dimmed. As it turns out, chamber music and circus are a great combination especially when served with the streak of savagery running through this Australian premiere performance.


What grace, what beauty, what spectacular core strength!


I could be wrong but I think it’s fair to say by now that we’re all relatively familiar with modern circus acrobatics, from the sideshows of Woodford to the pitched tents of Cirque du Soleil, it’s an art form that’s been everywhere over the last decade. Whilst I’m sure animals far and wide appreciate this reprieve from being made to perform, the downside is that it’s going to have to take something special to really grab me.


But this isn’t circus as you know it, this is circus with gravitas.


The frenetic combination of acrobatics, mime and dance set against a stark cavernous stage filled the performance with a demented intensity. A savage violence appeared throughout the performance however a disturbing disconnect grew out of this as whilst a lot of the movement was shockingly violent in nature, the expressions and responses from the cast were often out of sync with the action taking place. Often the choice of movement or position seemed to be chosen especially to elicit a guttural response from the audience, with several neck twisting contortions that would have done a spider walking Linda Blair proud.


Quatuor Debussy’s performance, both in their passionate playing of Shostakovich and their continued presence onstage throughout the scenes, was much more than just the soundtrack. I’d love to know whether the concept was inspired by the music or the music was chosen to fit the concept. Regardless the quartet’s musical and theatrical performance held the show together and provided Opus with a stable core required to balance the frenzied blend of acrobatics and dance.


The sheer strength and skill displayed is incredible and I can only imagine how many collective years of training have been invested to be able to present such an impressive show. The spectacular feats of human ability and gravity defying stunts are incredible, but it’s the intensity and passion of Opus that sets it apart. It plays until Sunday afternoon and if you’re in the mood for engaging physical theatre-meets-dance-meets-acrobatics with intense Russian chamber music then this show will definitely hit the spot.


Opus trailer from Circa on Vimeo.


Poppy’s Perspective: Circa Zoo Wonderland


Circa Zoo: Wonderland

The Noosa Long Weekend Festival

The J Theatre

Saturday 15th June 2013


Reviewed by Poppy Eponine


Circa Zoo_photo byRed Eclipse Photography for NLW Festival 2013Circa Zoo is a troupe of young performers daring to create and deliver spectacular contemporary circus art through performance.


See a glimpse of their world through the elegance and tenderness of relationships and experience the true meaning of adventure being about the journey, not the destination.


Based at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts in Fortitude Valley, the Circa Zoo program is just one of many circus training programs run by internationally renowned contemporary circus company, Circa. Circa Zoo is Circa’s extension performance program for talented young people who, in following Circa’s ethos, re-imagine circus in their own way under the guidance of trainers and directors.


Circa Zoo is a troupe of young performers daring to create and deliver spectacular contemporary circus art through performance.


Macquarie Noosa Long Weekend Festival Day 2 Sat am © 2013 Barry Alsop Photographer Eyes Wide Open IMAGES

At The J Theatre I went to Circa Zoo and when we walked into The J it looked beautiful with beautiful decorations, just especially for The Noosa Long Weekend. We saw Trena and Ian and Travis but I didn’t remember Travis because I was too little when he went to WAAPA. I was a bit shy when I saw him. I didn’t want to give him a hug but I know Trena so I gave her a big bear hug.


When we went in to find our seats we saw coloured hoops along the front of the stage. It was interesting because it looked like they might throw the hoops into the audience. The hoops looked like the middle of the pom poms I make.



The best tricks were the swinging body slams.



Macquarie Noosa Long Weekend Festival Day 2 Sat am © 2013 Barry Alsop Photographer Eyes Wide Open IMAGES

And the body slams, the hanging hoops, the swing, and the giant round toys that the youngest girl in the troupe had, and they hid behind them. She had the mini set of the round toys. They did handstands on them. And one kid tried to steal the toys from her. There were other funny acts like that.


They didn’t roll over the giant one, but they tumbled, galloping on their hands. Then they rolled the biggest one over a kid. Two kids! That was very cheeky. And at the end they used it to make a tree. They all made a tree with their bodies and that was nice. They seemed to all be friends, and that’s nice. It was like it was a family tree, like the people make one big family.



It was fabulous and I loved it. It wasn’t just the tricks. It was funny. It was funny because it was cheeky when they rolled the giant toy over the two girls but it looked like they probably didn’t mind because they’d practiced doing it.


It was interesting when the girl did the hoop tricks. She did tricks that I think you would need to do many, many days of practice for, unless you’ve already done years of hoop practice because you’ve grown up as a circus kid. She had a beautiful face, her expression was beautiful and I liked the eye contact she had with everyone in the audience.


The music was beautiful and it was my favourite kind of music when it was upbeat and I could find two beats in the music. It was a good choice for the types of acts there were. They had a good sense that it would be good for the show and I loved it. The music made me bounce up and down. I was dancing in my seat! Maybe the people behind me had to bounce up and down or move around to see because I was dancing. It would have been a bit annoying for the people in that row. BUT I hope they still enjoyed the show.


Macquarie Noosa Long Weekend Festival Day 2 Sat am © 2013 Barry Alsop Photographer Eyes Wide Open IMAGES

The circus kids had extremely wonderful faces. Their faces looked surprised, like in Alice in Wonderland, when Alice saw a rabbit in clothes.


They must have had the best teachers because they did so well. After the show we met Abby, one of the trainers, so I have to give her a bit of love because she’s one of the trainers.


I know how hard it is to put on a show because I just did my BYTES concert, but the difference is that this show was harder and they must have practiced A LOT!



Macquarie Noosa Long Weekend Festival Day 2 Sat am © 2013 Barry Alsop Photographer Eyes Wide Open IMAGESThey were brave.


You’ve gotta’ be brave to be a circus person. I wish I could do it. I would need to practice A LOT! I would like to learn the balance work and if I was able to, I would like to do the swinging slams. I’ve actually been practicing already. Dad can catch me when they swing me into his arms. And I can do both types of splits.


I won’t get to do the workshop next week but when Circa Zoo comes back to Noosa I would like to work with them. Mum says we had better tell the mums and dads to BOOK EARLY!






Macquarie Noosa Long Weekend Festival Day 2 Sat am © 2013 Barry Alsop Photographer Eyes Wide Open IMAGES

Poppy Eponine just turned seven and she knows what she’s talking about.








Sunday 16th June at the Festival


10am David Malouf (The J) in conversation with ABC’s Richard Fidler

10am IFilmaking workshops for kids 14-17years (The J)

10.30am African Drumming Workshop (Bicentennial Hall)

11.30am Women in Power Forum (Outrigger Little Hastings Street Resort) – I’m live-tweeting it!

11.45am African Drumming Workshop #2 (Bicentennial Hall)

2pm The New Palm Court Orchestra (The J)

3pm Tea Treats and Tales cooking demo and afternoon tea with Janelle Bloom (RACV Noosa Resort)

3.30pm Refugees Forum (Outrigger Little Hastings Street Resort)

7pm Tom Sharah ‘Its Raining Me’ & Sarah-Louise Young ‘Julie Madly Deeply’ double bill show (The J)



The Noosa Long Weekend Festival begins tonight!


The Noosa Long Weekend Festival is finally here!


We’re excited to be attending the official opening function and following that, the sensational Bobby Fox in 4 Seasons in One Night!


You might have noticed that the Brisbane Festival program launched this week but we haven’t had a chance to look at it yet! You can do so though, right here, and let us know what you’re planning to see. I will be making sure I get to UTE LEMPUR, THE WIZARD OF OZ, and a heap of other shows once I have time to pour over the program and lock in some things, just in case you’re not able to. Wait. Really? Seriously? I don’t think so! There’s really, seriously no excuse to miss anything, because to celebrate the launch, Brisbane Festival is offering friends of the Festival an exclusive opportunity to purchase tickets to events before they go on sale to the general public, to ensure you don’t miss out! The pre-sale begins 9am Thursday 13 June and ends on Sunday 16 June at 12 midnight. Access this special Brisbane Festival link to take advantage of this presale offer. Visit for the full list of Brisbane Festival events.


Also, there is some talk amongst industry peeps regarding the level of female involvement in the festival this year. Sadly, this doesn’t appear to be new news, and I don’t think the issue is about to go away so keep an eye out for a post about that soon. Have you checked out the program and noticed a substantial lack of female artists there?


Meanwhile, after Mister Bobby Fox takes care of the opening night entertainment at the Noosa Long Weekend, it seems there is a WEALTH of female talent involved! I’m sure you’ve missed out on seeing a couple of this year’s very BEST female performers if you haven’t booked already – I’m sure ADELE & MRS BANG are probs sold out already – sorry about that but, you know, BOOK EARLY FOR NEXT YEAR’S EVENTS. Here’s my schedule for the weekend, in case you’re also there and you want to say hi, or you want to keep up with where we are, what we’re wearing and who we’re drinking catching up with!


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Official Opening Night Function


Bobby Fox 4 Seasons in One Night


Bobby Fox. Photo courtesy of Jersey Boys Australia.



Ramona Koval –  By the Book


Circa Zoo



Circa Zoo. Image by Red Eclipse.



Women & Power Forum


It’s Raining Me & Julia, Madly, Deeply


HOT TIP! Tom Sharah’s show It’s Raining Me includes a delicious taste of The Rocky Horror Picture Show



Tom Sharah It's Raining Me




Judith Wright Centre

Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts

13th – 24th November 2012


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


In the circus we don’t need words to communicate. Instead we have the most magnificent expressive vehicle of all – the human body.

Yaron Lifschitz



The Helpmann Award winning Circa is in Brisbane for a short season and if you can get along to see it, in this crazy busy time of office parties, formals, ballet concerts, other Helpmann Award winning productions currently vying for your attention, and pre-Christmas drinks, you’ll admire the skill and enjoy the show.


Without a plot, props or any sort of set, Circa puts on the floor in front of us what they do best. And that’s circus. It doesn’t try to be anything else. It doesn’t need to. It’s enough – the individual and collective skill, and the bodies trembling with effort – it’s raw and it’s authentic, in the original sense of the word and not in the thousand-dollar-a-day-seminar kinda way.




The tone of the show is distinctly Australian and it feels like we could be just as easily standing around with beers at a barbeque in somebody’s backyard, egging each other on to try newer and harder tricks. “G’arn! Do it on yer head!” In fact, I’ve been to that barbeque! And so have you! It’s outrageous fun and has the audience in giggles from the outset, when a performer’s body suddenly appears, as if flung into the lit space from offstage. Other performers are not far behind and we soon get a sense of freedom, abandon and true blue Aussie larrikinism in the comical actions that follow.  Key to this is the lighting design, which provides changing spotlights, and later, fluidly moving shadows and bubbles of light, in which the bulk of the action takes place. It’s cheeky, friendly and funny. The performers are uniformly excellent and in this beginning is the essence of their production; it’s that abandon and bright, carefree Australian attitude. The daredevil display, an astonishing physical feat, followed by a nonchalant shrug of the shoulders and a grin, as if to say, “Yeah. I can do that. What of it?”




The inspiration could easily have been the re-discovery of a selection of basic acting exercises, which are familiar to those of us with any experience in a high school drama class – teachers, tertiary students and actors will attest – it’s lovely work, building on the basics; leading body parts, balances and counter balances, and meeting actors in the space. And a wonderful relaxed calm pervades, despite the daring of each feat. Sometimes you wish a show were more polished, precise and perfectly performed but in this, the mighty effort, the trembling and the vocal effects add to the overall charm of a show that doesn’t claim to be anything more than what you see and feel in the space. I’m happy to report that, as Director, Yaron Lifschitz aimed to do; the courage, openness and humanity of these performers find a way into the audience’s hearts.




Not without its more sombre moments, Circa manages to affect us with an intriguingly French soundtrack, baffling my husband, who wanted desperately to hear something less specific (no, not Australian). In complete contrast, I love the French aspect; it adds a sophisticated air and a sort of momentary sadness – a yearning – that somehow, for me anyway, circus has always had. Listening to a certain U2 song right through Year 10 may have something to do with that. The rope act is particularly poignant because of the mood the music creates. And then of course we up the anti again when we hear Cohen singing I Came So Far For BeautyI just love that song (I ruined a cassette tape back in the day, listening over and over and over again to Jennifer Warnes’ version from her album Famous Blue Raincoat), and at this point I glance over and notice Sam seems to have forgotten his gripes about any of the music. I’m glad to add another shared song to the mix tape of our lives!


Poppy says of Circa, “It was awesome! There was lots of excitement! Sometimes you wouldn’t usually see a girl picking up a boy. But I thought she would be strong enough because she’s in the circus. The ropes and the hula hoops were very funny.” Poppy is not an atypical audience member; she’s well versed in circus speak and she’s not as easy to please as you might think, having seen multiple Cirque du Soleil shows. She talked about the bodies moving through the light and the comedy right through our beautiful dinner at bucci after the show.


Queensland audiences are developing quite a taste for circus and the more discerning types will have already seen Circa. Actors, directors and choreographers too must have noticed the distinct dance theatre style continuing to develop with shows like Circa’s (yes, you know dance theatre; it’s what we used to call “physical theatre” and you’ve seen it executed exceptionally well in productions such as Stockholm and Tender Napalm at La Boite). It’s fascinating to see this sense of theatre and dance merging, all the while developing within a circus framework as well as a theatrical one. It’s such a delicious thing. I can’t wait to see more of it!


If you haven’t yet had a taste of Circa, you’re in for a real treat.


“Circa is like a meal. Full of ingredients and flavours you know but in combinations that are utterly new and often disconcerting.”

Yaron Lifschitz





A Chat with Nathan Boyle: Circa


CIRCA Image by Atmosphere Photography

Nathan Boyle is one of those kids who grew up and ran away to join the circus.

I asked Poppy, who is six years old and doing circus, gymnastics and sports aerobics training (and who is very excited about seeing the show this week!), to help me ask Nathan a few questions in the lead up to CIRCA‘s opening night at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts on Wednesday.


What is it that makes Circa so special?

Circa is one of the largest full time circus ensembles in Australia. I’ve been lucky enough to be in the company for two years and since joining the circa team the world has been my oyster. I’ve had so many opportunities to do what I love in numerous countries and theatres and each time I step out on stage I still get a thrill when I hear the audiences’ applause.


How do you go about making circus that “moves the heart, mind and soul”?

We put in a lot of time focusing the overall performance of the show and not just in the skills that are in the show. Don’t get me wrong; our shows are jam packed with high-level skills. Our shows don’t follow a linear story, which allows for each audience member to experience the show differently.


How was your Brisbane Festival experience this year?

Brisbane Festival was an amazing time. It was great fun to create and to world premiere our new show, ‘S’. There was such a buzz in Brisbane and the energy of the city was palatable.


Where else have you performed and where do you go next?
I’ve performed in Canada, the US, France, Germany and all around Australia. Next year we head off next to Canada and the US, which I am really looking forward to.


Do you have sleepovers when you travel or do you have a late night trip to get home?

Usually when we perform we are usually away from home, so that means that when we finish a show and cool down we head back to our accommodation. We are sort of like gypsies, gypsies with style.


How much time do you spend rehearsing and working on new tricks?

When we aren’t on the road we are back in the studio training 9 to 5. We are constantly rehearsing and training new tricks. Some skills come quickly but some skills require a lot of time and practice. But practice makes perfect.


How often do you learn new tricks?

Constantly, we train for three hours prior to each show. In that time we warm up, train and try new tricks. Normally the skills/tricks that are in the show are the ones that are polished and safe.


How many new tricks can you learn in a day?

Well that depends on the difficulty of the tricks we are trying. Some tricks you can learn really quickly and others might require a few days, weeks or even months.


What does a typical Circa day look like?

9:00-10:00am – Warm up

10:00-11:30am – Group skills training like big balances and toss the girl tricks

11:30am-1:00pm – Usually rehearsals with Yaron our Artistic Director

1:00-2:00pm – Lunch

2:00-4:30pm – Solo training and act development

4:30-5:00pm – Cool down


Do you stick to a special diet or rely on specific super foods to stay in shape and to keep you going?

Our bodies are kind of like an engine. If we don’t put in good fuel we won’t run. We are conscience of what foods we are eating as what we put in we get out. We all have containers full of trail mix, which we nibble on throughout the day, which helps us make it through the day.


What was your training or previous experience?

Before Circa, I was a student at NICA (National Institute of Circus Arts) down in Melbourne, where I trained for three years full time and came out with a Bachelor in Circus Arts. Prior to that I competed in Sports Acrobatics.


Do you get a say in what you wear? Is it comfy?

We work very closely with our amazing costume designer. She makes sure that the end product suits our needs and the show’s needs. All the costumes are very comfy and it’s never a chore to put them on.


What do you do to warm up before a show and chill out after a show?

We spend an hour normally before each show warming up and stretching.  Normally after a show we have a cool down and then we are normally on the hunt for a restaurant so we can have some dinner.


What should kids be doing if they want to run away to join the circus?

Train hard and never stop doing what they love. Circa has a range of short course programs that young ones can get a taste of circus. Details can be found at


Do you ever feel like running away to join the real world?

NEVER, I don’t think I would survive in an office. I can’t sit down for longer than five minutes, which makes our long plane rides overseas a challenge.


Nathan Boyle Circa

Nathan Boyle has been a natural performer his whole life. After terrorising his parents at a young age with handstands and cartwheels, his parents saw his passion for performing and acrobatics and enrolled him in gymnastics. His passion for acrobatics took him to Sports Acrobatics where he represented and won titles for NSW at many National Championships.
After accepting his position at The National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA) Nathan trained in Cloudswing, Adagio, Bungee trapeze and Teeterboard. A highlight for Nathan whilst at NICA was performing at an International Circus Festival (CIRCA festival) in France, Auch (2009).

After graduating in 2010, Nathan was hired by Circa. Since working for Circa Nathan has performed nationally at the Sydney Festival and internationally in America and Canada. Nathan is currently living in Berlin Germany where he is performing in Wunderkammer by Circa at the renowned Chamäleon Theatre.


Wonderland, Gremlins & It Plays to Move

Anywhere Theatre Festival 2012

Saturday 12th May

Experienced by Kathryn Rose

Ever heard of a plane being piloted by a loaf of bread – with Gremlins as cabin crew?  Or a play being directed by someone who has never laid eyes on the script?  These are just a few of the bizarre circumstances you could find yourself in during the Anywhere Theatre Festival.

I first heard about this concept when my gorgeous boy, Matt, attended the TEDxBrisbane event in October last year.  He forwarded a recording of a presentation by Paul Osuch talking about the Anywhere Theatre Festival and its aims.

The main objective is to encourage, and provide opportunities for, more people to experience live performances in places other than the traditional theatre complex.  Artists pay to register their act and have it promoted on the Anywhere Theatre website, then get to pocket all the proceeds, thereby cutting out the middleman and hopefully channelling more remuneration to the actual performers.

Matt and I started our Anywhere Theatre experience on Saturday in Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall with Wonderland, a cirque-type act with a group of very talented young people. This free performance was very much appreciated by the large group of shoppers who stopped to have a look.

From there it was off to a very different venue in Auchenflower – the lounge room of Mark Theodossiou, an actor, producer and director from Australian Actors Network.  Due to circumstances beyond their control, Matt and I were the only audience members for that session.  But the show must go on (and we’d paid our $22!), so Mark and Michelle explained the concept of their performance.  We were offered the choice of four two-hander scripts and asked to choose the style and direction of delivery we wanted from our actors.  We had to nominate which actor would play each role and the emotion or motivational features we wanted from the characters.  We had a lot of fun watching Mark’s character, Linus, being besotted with the recorded voice on Linus’ mobile phone in Ma Belle. For the second selection I asked them to perform the play, Jammed, conventionally first then we mixed it up with some challenges for our capable actors. At the end, both actors said they really enjoyed my direction (I bet they say that to ALL the girls!).

After a leisurely dinner at Southbank, we continued our adventure and headed to a rather seedy part of Woolloongabba, where The Gremlins were performing.  The ‘venue’ was an enclosed area at the front of the Reverse Garbage warehouse, with a motley assortment of chairs arranged in rows.  We handed over our $12 each and collected our ‘boarding passes’ for the inaugural flight of the Gromlot family’s new budget airline. At 7pm we were all ushered into our barely-half-completed plane where our hosts proceeded to entertain us with pure escapist, joyful nonsense that had us rolling around laughing.  Because Matt had previously seen The Gremlins perform at Woodford, he had high expectations – and they definitely didn’t disappoint.

The Anywhere Theatre Festival is a wonderful mixture of random, artistic and highly-creative acts that is sure to catch on further around the world.  Let’s hope the Sunny Coast embraces this concept as well; the possibilities are endless!

Ed’s note: See the final performance of EPIPHANY by 2Muse Productions on Saturday 19th at 5pm at the Sunshine Coast School of Photography, Yandina.

Featuring Korean performance artists, well-known to Brisbane indie audiences, Younghee Park and Pak Hoyoung, with Mary Eggleston and seven young Sunshine Coast actors, this is a re-imagining of the production we saw last year. With funding to support the community development goals and the time to explore a few brand new plot points, it’s a very different show and well worth a (second) look. Incorporating effective AV elements (Sue Davis, Judy Barrass, Julia Dawson & James Muller), an evocative soundscape (Eggleston & Bruce Hamilton) and live musical accompaniment by popular Sunshine Coast entertainer, Simon Russell-Baker, EPIPHANY is a fine example of what an independent company can do with limited resources and limitless imagination, blurring the lines between training and entertaining and providing opportunities for young artists to develop their craft alongside professional performers without having to leave the beautiful Sunshine Coast!

EPIPHANY is a whimsical, magical, fantastical tale, which you’ll relate to if you’ve ever wished you could escape your current reality. Escape once more on Saturday 19th May.