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Geoffrey Dunstan

Geoff Dunstan is a founding member of Discolate – who perform 3 Speed Crunchbox at the Melba Speigeltent this November – owner of Ruccis Circus School and has a long term circus/permaculture garden project.

HOW DID YOU GET INTO CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE?

While I was at university working hard at not finishing my degree in arts / Engineering, I ran two clubs;  the Gymnastics Club and the Shakespeare Society.  Combining the resources of these two clubs I created extremely physical, contemporary Shakespearian productions.  It was as a result of producing these shows that I ended up getting a job with Circus Oz and that kick started my journey into the world of circus and physical theatre.

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Curiosity by Dislocate

WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO?

I am also the owner of Ruccis circus school which I started with a couple of fabulous mates ten years ago.  I’m a dad of two fabulous kids. Occasionally I also do some rigging but there’s not a lot of time left for that.

I love the circus and I love environmentalism.  I keep trying to combine my two passions, it’s not always easy but I keep plugging away at it. In my backyard I am creating a combination circus / permaculture garden!

WHAT DOES CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE MEAN TO YOU?

I started in physical theatre because I thought it was a really exciting and innovative way of telling contemporary stories and expressing important social and environmental ideas. At the same time it was heaps of fun.

I fell in love with the circus because of it’s history of looking at and living in the world differently.  I was inspired by the transient lifestyles of the traditional circuses. I loved living in caravans in my early days with Circus Oz and hanging out with the Circus Monoxide mob touring around on their double decker bus, I loved meeting up with Acrobat and discovering different approaches to food and health and principled living, I loved talking to Derek Ives about why he thought it was important to juggle with slabs of meat  dressed as a butcher because he felt societally we had become desensitized from the source of the products we consume, I loved circus tents and the idea that you could build your own venue wherever you could find a spare paddock.  I loved the way circus people often viewed the world from a completely different perspective.

I believe that the ability to see things through a different lens is badly needed in the world and that circus can be an amazing living example of tolerance, difference and solving problems through lateral and original thinking.

Circus for me was a window into a world of original thought, of different ways to exist, a world where difference was so normal that if you weren’t careful you might become intolerant of normal.

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Laughter and Tears by Victorian Opera with Circus Oz. Photo by Geoff Busby

WHAT’S THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE CAREER SO FAR?

So many highlights it is hard to choose.  Doing a throw out on the cloudswing for the first time,  completing a 360 swing on my first ever home built swing, seeing my kids swing on our backyard rig, watching  Ruccis students put on their first ever show without any help from me, singing in an opera (it was a comedy moment but I don’t have to mention that) playing guitar on stage with Circus Oz in New York,  ( another comedy moment),  producing my first international tour of RIsk Reduction.  Asking famous writer/director Michael Gow to direct one of Dislocate’s first shows and him saying yes,  getting to work with some of the amazing alumni of Rock’n’Roll Circus; Rudi Mineur, Matt Wilson, Derek Ives, Kareena Oates,  finding out that I am a clown, making my wife cry performing a stunning death scene with my circus partner of 18 years Kate Fryer, in our recent production If These Walls Could Talk. The breakfast buffet on Dislocate’s recent tour to India. I better stop there!

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Photo by Julian Orbach

IF YOU WEREN’T DOING CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING RIGHT NOW?

If I wasn’t doing physical theatre I would be working in some way to help the environment and in fact a key focus for me at the moment is to explore ways in which I can steer my performance career in this direction.  I am filled with a mixture of horror at what we are doing to this world and enthusiasm at the innovative solutions certain scientists, engineers, architects and multiple others are finding to try to address this. I think the arts and performers in general have a very important role to play in communicating and promoting positive change, as well as helping to make people think differently. I would love to play a bigger part in this movement through my craft.

WHAT SKILLS DO YOU LIKE PERFORMING AND WHY?

The skills I love the most are ones that don’t look like skills.  I love the ladder act that I created with DJ Garner (and others)  for which we use a normal old ladder we found lying around.  I love the scenes that Dislocate created using a couch that was hanging around the training space we trained in and which smelled heavily of share-house living. I love the office scene that Kate Fryer and I created on top of a photocopying machine, lit by the light of the photocopier.

I love it when magic appears from out of the ordinary!

WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE IN 5 YEARS TIME?

In five years time I would like to be  sitting on my backyard watching my kids pick fruit and vegies from our permaculture garden, waiting for my all electric, driverless tesla car to come and pick me up and take me to the premiere of the new Ruccis show.  As I wait I hope to be dreaming up new ways to have even more fun, living a sustainable lifestyle, and I hope my body lets me keep being an acrobatic clown at least until then .

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3 Speed Crunch Box. Photo by Rob Blackburn

WHY DO WE NEED CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE IN THE WORLD?

Sometimes I feel like we might all be riding on the Titanic and that everyone is yelling at the drivers to slow down.  I believe that we need to cherish and nourish the people in the world who are able to see that we will not avert catastrophe by travelling slower, but rather we need to change direction! The world needs people who can think differently and effectively promote ways in which we can make that change of direction.  I have found that the circus/physical theatre industry is full of such people and I believe we need as many great examples of this as possible.

Physical theatre can take an idea and present it in a way that makes people think differently. It can inspire audiences, not just with the extraordinary physical feats but with the message we can weave into that physicality. Circus has a long history of demonstrating a completely different alternative lifestyle and I think we can tap into this long history and reframe it as vehicle to advocate for a  change of direction from the current path which humanity is travelling

 

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Joshua Hoare

This week we bring you another Featured (Board) Member.  Joshua Hoare is a new ACAPTA Board Member and also the Artistic Director of the South Australian Circus Centre and Cirkidz.

WHICH STATE DO YOU LIVE IN?
I live on Kaurna Country (Adelaide, SA)  and grew up on Gamilaroi country (North west NSW.)

HOW DID YOU GET INTO CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE?
I grew up in regional NSW and didn’t have much access to circus or theatre. Fran Curtis (Mother of Robbie Curtis, Circus Oz, Circa, Cirque du Soleil) however, ran a regional theatre project for young people in northern NSW at Armidale High School, and it was devised physical theatre based. I had also been inspired by seeing a hand to hand act on TV and knew my life would be taken care of from then on. Fran’s project opened up a whole world to me. Anyone working regionally and remotely, please know your work makes an absolute difference. Keep Going!

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WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO?
As Artistic Director at the South Australian Circus Centre and Cirkidz, I don’t get much time to do extracurricular activities, but I love travelling and learning about the many cultures that make up this country and globe. Every since I was little I’ve been obsessed by learning languages so I’ve always got some little project with that going on. My yoga practice brings me a lot and keeps evolving around meditation and asana practice. I love nutritional medicine so half the fridge is stocked with living foods.

WHAT DOES CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE MEAN TO YOU?
It’s like a trampoline that’s pulled taut between so many things. The continuum of virtuosic skill and broad community access. The experience of literally doing the best for myself and setting my community up to succeed. The balance between prescriptive black and white thinking, and open ended generative creativity. It means literally depending on someone, becoming part of a greater whole. It’s a celebration, and reflection of what it is to be human.

As Circus and Physical theatre artists, we have access to truths unavailable to other art forms. When people witness what we do, the network of mirror neurons in the front of their brain go crazy with possibility and they are reminded what they themselves are capable of. It’s a huge responsibility.

WHAT’S THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE CAREER SO FAR?
Every day that I get to feel myself part of the Australian circus community is a highlight. Every time I work with the young artists across the country and am reminded of the future of our industry and family.

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IF YOU WEREN’T DOING CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING RIGHT NOW?
I would be working on language documentation efforts to document dying languages. This country has the highest rate of linguicide (language death) in the known world, and we all have to contribute to reversing it. Know the name of the country you live on, know the name of the first nation where you grew up. Reflect on the words you use…

WHAT SKILLS DO YOU LIKE PERFORMING AND WHY?
I love group acrobatics and hand to hand. We have an immediate and embodied experience of what it is to trust someone, and be trusted. Of what it is to be a human.

WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE IN 5 YEARS TIME?
Happy and Healthy. I believe more in preparing rather than planning. In a world full of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, I reckon its wiser to respond rather than set too rigid a course. Read some more Nassim Taleb…

WHY DO WE NEED CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE IN THE WORLD?
I think ultimately circus and physical theatre are technologies of celebration and reflection. They’re two things that seem harder and harder to access these days. True celebration and True reflection. We live in an attention economy where the currency is fear and loathing. Circus offers us a way out of this dead end. I learnt about ‘heliotropism’ recently, the way a plant will change its growth in the direction of light. I think this is a core truth for all life, we need and want to go towards light, and away from darkness. I’ve chosen Circus and theatre as the vehicle for my heliotropic journey, and I’d love to take as many people as possible along for the ride.

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Hemlock Mejarne

Hemlock Mejarne is the artistic director of Solid State Circus and runs the PASS (Peer Assessment for Street Safety) program in Sydney and Melbourne as well as being an acrobat and veteran busker. He is passionately devoted to the keeping public spaces open as places for creative expression.

Headstand SCCWHICH STATE DO YOU LIVE IN? Most of them and both mainland Territories

HOW DID YOU GET INTO CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE? Sports Acrobatics gave me a big skill set, Corrugated Iron Youth Arts gave me my first circus performing opportunities, Streetshows hardened my audience skills, wonderful encouragement and advice from elders of our industry inspired me.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO? There’s something else!???

WHAT DOES CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE MEAN TO YOU? A way of sharing what it means (or can mean) to be human.

Camel of Death CQWHAT’S THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE CAREER SO FAR? Keeping the streets open to freedom of expression; not just for the circus streeties but the chalk drawers, musicians, statues, poets and all the fabulous quirky people our society colours our streets with. Since 1997 I have advised Sydney City Council and many others on best practice busking policy. I developed the Peer Assessment for Street Safety (PASS) program to allay fears of dangerous acts on the street and am constantly sitting in meetings educating bureaucrats as to why they need to keep the streets free for performance. A few years ago a world study on busking policies declared Sydney, Melbourne and San Paulo to be equal best in the world. I’m so happy to see that decades of work pays off. I’m saddened to see we have to constantly defend our right to freedom of expression. I’m meeting with Melbourne’s arrogant Lord Mayor this week to set him straight again!

IF YOU WEREN’T DOING CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING RIGHT NOW? I’d be dead, or at least dead in my soul.

Flying Hem in tentWHAT SKILLS DO YOU LIKE PERFORMING AND WHY? The right somersault/fire move/stilt trick/facial expression/pause/double take/juggle thing with just the right timing, in the perfect way, for that crowd there in front of me in that moment.

WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE IN 5 YEARS TIME? Being on stage with younger performers that are all better than I ever have been.

WHY DO WE NEED CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE IN THE WORLD? Circus is where sport and art meet. The physical, intellectual and emotional enrichment circus provides in one medium outshines plain acting or dance or stand up comedy or poetry or sculpture or satire or music or any of these things because it can be all of them at once. It is good for society’s morale.  Circus helps keep us human.

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EMMA J HAWKINS

Emma J Hawkins is an exceptionally multi-talented performer and accountant.  She is currently in residence at Circus Oz working on the Fair Ground Project.  Keep your eyes out next year to see where this exciting project goes.

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Photo credit: John McKay

 

HOW DID YOU GET INTO CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE?

I studied a Diploma of Small Companies and Community Theatre in Ballarat and that started my love of devising new work and delved into the world of physical theatre. I have worked with such companies as Branch Nebula in Sydney and also BalletLab in Melbourne.  I have also created my own award winning dance theatre piece called One More Than One which won Best of Fringe (Brisbane) and Best Movement/Dance Theatre (Melbourne), toured nationally and internationally. In 2009-2010 I toured with Circus Oz as a stilt walking, tap dancing acrobat in their show Barely Contained.

 

WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO?

I have worked in Musicals, Children’s Theatre, Shakespeare, Cabaret, Circus, Burlesque and everything in between.   As a short statured performer I am a keen advocate for fair representation of diversity in the arts specifically for artists with a disability. I am currently involved in an amazing new company called The Fair Ground Project.  A Melbourne based circus company that integrates artists with and without a disability something that has never been done before here in Australia.

 

WHAT DOES CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE MEAN TO YOU?

Physical Theatre/Circus is another way to tell a story to break open the boundaries and perceptions of audiences about what’s possible for each and every body type.

 

WHAT’S THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE CAREER SO FAR?

The highlight for my career in this particular genre would be creating and collaborating in my own work and being involved in this creative development with The Fair Ground Project.

 

IF YOU WEREN’T DOING CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING RIGHT NOW?

I do lots of other types of performing. I am also a trained accountant and run my own business called Small Fortunes so that keeps me very busy this time of year!

 

WHAT SKILLS DO YOU LIKE PERFORMING AND WHY?

I always love learning new skills each time I do a show and am currently learning the walking globe.   I particularly love dancing and specialise in tap dance.

 

WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE IN FIVE YEARS TIME?

Who knows where I will be in 5 years the future is an open book.  But I am imagining living in Geelong as we have just bought our very first home, running my business and being involved in amazing creative projects when they come along.

 

WHY DO WE NEED CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE IN THE WORLD?

Early on in my career I realised audiences would be interested in my physicality and seem to be forever intrigued by how I exist in my world.   My body and physical skills have become very useful tools in my storytelling as a performer.    In some ways my early childhood was similar to training in the circus, balancing on things, climbing, teaching my body new ways to do things. Its frustrations, its limitations, its difference. Circus is such a wonderful and creative form to test audiences’ perceptions of what a body can do and be amazed when it is pushed to it’s very limits and back again.  A world where the seemingly impossible is possible.

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Lauren Watson – Adaptive Aerial Artist

Lauren is a Queensland based aerialist, graphic designer and  blogger who discovered her love of circus in an unlikely venue.

 
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Bradford Whelan Photography

HOW DID YOU GET INTO CIRCUS?  In 2000 I suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of a motor vehicle accident and after a decade of doing physiotherapy I decided I need to try something new to take me to the next level of recovery. I hunted around for something that stood out and on a random trip to the local shopping centre saw an aerial demonstration and from there I was hooked. 

 

WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO? Im a graphic designer, designing logos for Industry aerial arts, Flyworx Entertainment and Circus Corridor, and I also make costumes. I run a aerial beginner blog called Fitnesstofree.com where I publish posts by myself and other artists.  I’m aiming for the blog to become the hub and source of good information for beginner aerialists all over the world.

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Photo Credit: Clipped Productions

 

WHAT DOES CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE MEAN TO YOU? It means everything, since I started I’ve really created this connection between my body and the apparatus and It has really helped my mobility. It’s more than just a physical outlet as it has become my passion and I’ve really dived right in and immersed myself in the art.

 

WHAT’S THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE CAREER SO FAR? I’m still emerging and because what I do is so unique within the circus community, my highlight would be being featured in a music video for indie Sydney band Little Fox when the director was looking for a contemporary dancer. I decided to contact them and take the risk and they loved what I did so they called me up and offered me the role. It was an amazing experience to see what it’s like to be in front of a camera.

 

IF YOU WEREN’T DOING CIRCUS, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING RIGHT NOW? I would be working as a graphic designer for the circus and arts community and working on designing more costumes for an Australian market.

 

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Bradford Whelan Photography

WHAT SKILLS DO YOU LIKE PERFORMING AND WHY? I love my aerial chair, I had it made and I chose the measurements myself which was really scary as I didn’t know if it would be the right size. Lucky for me it was and I love playing around it like a maze. It gives me the opportunity to explore space and I feel there so much you can do with it.

 

WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE IN 5 YEARS TIME? In 5 years time I would love to be a teaching assistant in aerial hammock as it was the first aerial apparatus I mastered and it’s a great introduction for beginners. I hope to have some more performing experience under my belt and to have started performing in fringe festivals in Australia and overseas.

 

WHY DO WE NEED CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE IN THE WORLD? Because the world looks better upside down.

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DJ Garner – Acrobat & Street Performer

DJ Garner is a Melbourne based street performer who performs as AD-DJ.  When we asked DJ how long he’d been an ACAPTA member he recalled joining by writing his name down on a piece of paper handed around by Reg Bolton at the 2004 Circus Festival.
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IMAGE CREDIT: Fergus Randall

 

HOW DID YOU GET INTO CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE?

It was accidental.  I never wanted to be an acrobat but I could no longer stand being a gymnast. I’d kind of dropped out of high school and my mum heard about auditions for NICA and suggested I do it.  I had no idea about Circus.  Going to NICA, knowing that I knew nothing, meant that I was really open and then I met some amazing people and become aware that I had skills that I could use and something to offer in this field that I’d known nothing about.  And then it just went from there.

 

 

WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO?

Mainly I do street shows.  I also work with Dislocate, lately in a show called If these walls could talk.  I started a company called Candy Butchers in 2004, with Azaria Universe, Derek Ives and Jess Love and I’ve worked with lots of companies, done corporate entertainment, I worked with Cirque du Soleil for a while.

My passion is really for street performing.  Its important for so many reasons. Every time I went on stage with Cirque du Soleil I was aware that I was performing for an an elite group of people who could afford the tickets.  As a street performer I can inspire and connect with anyone and sometimes they pay me for it and sometimes they don’t and that’s fine.

I also teach sometimes but I don’t really like to teach, because I think you need to to dedicate yourself to your students to be a good teacher and I want to perform and to travel so I can’t really do that. Good teachers who can develop a relationship with their students are really important, I’ve probably had fifty teachers but the thing that made me really good is a couple of years of very fundamental work with one amazing teacher.

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IMAGE CREDIT: Fergus Randall

 

WHAT DOES CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE MEAN TO YOU?

What it really means to me is that I know my place in the world, it’s where I communicate my best and its where I get to share my ideas.

 

WHAT’S THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE CAREER SO FAR?

I can’t pick one but a recent highlight…Well I was really delighted to get the critics award at the world buskers festival in Christchurch, to get picked out by the critics amongst an incredible group of buskers…I really appreciated the accolade.

 

IF YOU WEREN’T DOING CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING RIGHT NOW?

I’d probably be making something with my hands.  I really like making an everyday prop do an out of the ordinary thing, making stage magic.

 

WHAT SKILLS DO YOU LIKE PERFORMING AND WHY?

I enjoy Slapstick the most.  It’s the owww oooh ahhhh and the laughter.  I think it actually triggers physical memories for people as well as making them laugh and I love doing that.

 

WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE IN 5 YEARS TIME?

I’d still like to be street performing.

 

WHY DO WE NEED CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE IN THE WORLD?

11700773_978926965503232_3767110848335982632_oThe reason we need street performing, and circus at its core the way it was originally intended, is that it’s always been something that’s affordable and accessible to anyone.  You can pay to go and see a game of football and you get to see a battle of the Titans.  Or you could see a group of acrobats and still get that same show of strength and skill, but then you also get something balletic and beautiful, you get to see true variety and you can be amazed.

What I love about street performance and circus is that, as an audience member, you get bang for your buck.  We live in a world where we’re being tugged at for every dollar and street performing and circus are outside that.

Street performers are my favourite kind of performers, they’re the most versatile, the most used to failure.  They will just keep getting up and doing it again.

AD-DJ Streetshow

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Frank Taylor – Sydney Trapeze School

Sydney Trapeze School are ACAPTA’s newest members.  Happily, director Frank Taylor chose trapeze over running away with the garbo’s.

DSC_0084HOW DID YOU GET INTO CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE?

I’ve been involved with the Flying Trapeze for over 16 years, performing and teaching all over Asia and parts of Europe before moving to the USA to develop my flying and catching skills. My identical twin brother, Rob, and I ultimately set up our own Flying Trapeze school in the heart of Sydney. Sydney Trapeze School opens its doors, to extend and share the thrill and fun of flying to the general public.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO?

Over the years Sydney Trapeze School has evolved to offer a range of different circus skills. We have an aerials department including Silks, Lyra, Static Trapeze and Doubles Trapeze. We also offer Trampoline classes, Juggling & Unicycling classes and Acro classes.

WHAT DOES CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE MEAN TO YOU?

We believe that everyone deserves to experience the thrill and have the opportunity to improve their fitness doing this fun and unique activity

WHAT’S THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE CAREER SO FAR?STS side shot

We love seeing students come into our school and conquer their fear of heights as they learn to swing on the flying trapeze. It is inspiring to see students go above and beyond and surprise us with their skills.

IF YOU WEREN’T DOING CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING RIGHT NOW?

Before being immersed in the flying trapeze world, I wanted to run away with the garbo’s.

WHAT SKILLS DO YOU LIKE PERFORMING AND WHY?

It is always a great pleasure to be the catcher for student and staff shows on the Flying Trapeze. There is a great sense of teamwork and achievement when everyone works together to make a fly show happen. It is especially exciting when flyers catch a trick they have been training hard towards.

WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE IN 5 YEARS TIME?

DSC_0326I hope to continue flying as well as teaching and learning new tricks and skills.

WHY DO WE NEED CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE IN THE WORLD?

Circus is an avenue to connect and build a supportive community in which to express oneself and have fun. It is a great way to exercise, stay fit, strong and healthy. Circus a powerful means to come together, focus on the positives and connect across the world. .

 Sydney Trapeze School website

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Lilyana Massey – Spaghetti Circus

Lilyana Massey is a young performer and coach with Spaghetti Circus in Mullumbimby, NSW.  Showing typical dedication to her art, Lilyana responds to our questions here while upside down in a knee hang.

13036511_1605770549741395_1574623845_oHOW DID YOU GET INTO CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE?

I went to my first circus class when I was seven at Spaghetti. My teacher was the one and only Leonie Mills. She was inspirational and I loved it. I’m still doing it six years later. I’m now thirteen and a half.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO?

I go to school at Mullumbimby High. My favourite subjects are art, music and drama. Actually I quite like maths. I love to go camping. There are so many beautiful places to camp up here.  I am junior coach at Spaghetti. I teach circus to the five to seven year olds and eight to eleven year olds. I love that as well.

WHAT DOES CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE MEAN TO YOU?

I get to learn more things. It’s fun.  Like when you finally get the trick you have been working on and it’s such a rush because I did it and it’s a new thing. It makes me feel happy. But sometimes it’s frustrating when I don’t get the thing. It can be tiring and enlightening at the same time.

_DSC0117WHAT’S THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE CAREER SO FAR?

I loved doing my Rapunzel trapeze act in the cabaret at 2015 Mullum Circus Festival. It felt like a pretty big performance in front of a huge crowd and one that was all the circus people from around Australia not just parents from Mullumbimby. I was really nervous so that was pretty cool to perform it and get it right.

IF YOU WEREN’T DOING CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING RIGHT NOW?

Maybe I’d start dance classes, I was thinking. Or parkour – that would be cool. If you put your heart to it, you can achieve anything. Other than that, I would be on school holidays.

WHAT SKILLS DO YOU LIKE PERFORMING AND WHY?

I love solo static trapeze and I’m currently learning cloudswing with Misha Reale. She used to teach at NICA and now she’s at Spaghetti,  which is great. Cloudswing can be super scary when you are learning new swinging tricks, and so I really love that.

_DSC0112WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE IN 5 YEARS TIME?

Well I’ll be eighteen and a half so I’d like to finish school. Then go travelling and then maybe move to Melbourne and do more circus. I can’t wait.

WHY DO WE NEED CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE IN THE WORLD?

It’s a good source of exercise, its entertaining to watch people push the boundaries of what they can do with their bodies and you get to hang upside down in a knee hang whilst answering these questions. It’s a place  where people can try stuff out.

 

 

Spaghetti-Inc-Logo-BigSpaghetti Circus is a leading regional arts organisation and one of Australia’s premier youth circus schools and performing arts companies. Nestled at the foot of Mt Chincogan in Mullumbimby, in the Northern Rivers region of NSW, Spaghetti has been sharing the thrills and spills of circus with kids and audiences for over 23 years. Founded by the legendary Leonie Mills, Spaghetti is now home to the biannual Mullum Circus Festival and is proud as punch to see its graduates performing all over Australia and internationally. Hailing from the ‘Biggest Little Town in Australia’, Spaghetti Circus is pleased that we are punch fronting, well above our weight.

Photo credit: John W McCormick, Carnival Cinema

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Gwen Knox

As Gwen Knox hands over the reins of the incredible Act Belong Commit Sandfly Circus, based in Broome, we celebrate her work and find out how she first got involved in the circus arts.

unnamedHOW DID YOU GET INTO CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE?
When I was a child, my friend Ellen who lived down the road had a really good swing hanging from her tree. This shady space under the tree became our circus ring (as the tank stand was our opera stage) We would dress in elaborate clothes and perform aerial acts. I was always very flexible, I still am despite my age and girth, so always got the gigs that had me performing at the top of the swing.  I had mucked around with circus a bit while I was a uni, but never mastered the unicycle. When I was a graduate teacher in Fitzroy Crossing planning a school show with a circus theme, a very enthusiastic man who was working for the Department of Culture and the Arts promoting their grant programs. We sat on a pile of sand outside my house making balloon juggling balls. His name was Reg Bolton. A couple of hours in his company allowed me to get the show and possibly the rest of my life sorted.

12043077_10153028675082540_3737798355711643291_n[1]As my first circus show it taught me a lot about facilitation of community theatre with remote Indigenous kids. We had a dancing pantomime horse operated by two teachers and a gorilla who lived in a very wonky cage. The 300 kids had devised all the other acts with me. The deputy principal was the ring master who constantly reminded the kids and audience to tell him if Godzilla the gorilla was about to escape. By the time Godzilla(who was another teacher in a gorilla suit) escaped, and this was all captured on film by the Manual arts teacher, the kids and the audience bolted, bowling over the film maker in the rush. We had to stop the show and entice kids out of trees and from behind the bushes.

While I was in Fitzroy Crossing I met a young back packer who was good to party with. A friend and I went to Broome for weekend to say goodbye when he left. We went busking in a shopping centre and earned enough for a carton of beer. We went down the beach and drank it.

A few years later when I was living in Broome and helping run the Fringe Festival I went to the markets to meet a potential performer in a tall red had who was doing shows at the markets. It was the same young bloke. Hi name was Matt Yates (Fat mat).

I was then working in a local school in Broome teaching music and circus. Whenever visitors like Fat Mat, Crash Mat, Alex Marshal, Lockie McDonald, Pixie Robertson, Eleanor Davies, Sian Phillips came through town I would get them to work with my kids. In the mean time I would blunder along on my own.

I left teaching to work as a free-lance community artist. Teaching music, circus puppetry around the country. From time to time I would get Eleanor Davies to work with me and she came up with the name Sandlfy Circus for the Broome circus projects.

I now work as the Artistic Director of Theatre Kimberley. When we decided to take on a youth focus we started a regular circus program in 2007. I gave the organisation the right to use the Sandlfy Circus name. The circus has become one of our flagship programs with over 70 young people attending.

DSC02119WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO?
I also write and direct performances for and with young people and love to make puppets. In 2015 I wrote and directed a puppet show called “Ngalyak and the Flood” which was a Franco- Indigenous Australian collaboration. I also wrote the theme tune used as part of the sound track. The resulting physical theatre performance was performed in Broome and at the Festival Mondial de Marionnettes de Charleville-Mézières France Festival OFF to full houses. It was very thrilling to do this project and we have been invited back! I also have a puppetry musical(score by Lorrae Coffin) that will tour the Pilbara region in 2016.

WHAT DOES CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE MEAN TO YOU?
I came into circus using it as a tool to teach other skills to kids. It is a fantastic medium for this. I recognise that not everyone will become famous performers (though some of “My Kids” have done so.) but they could become great people. I have seen non-readers who couldn’t settle into a chair for more than a few minutes, do so after I had taught them to juggle.

WHAT’S THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE CAREER SO FAR?
When kids that I have taught in the past come and give me a hug and say thanks.

IF YOU WEREN’T DOING CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING RIGHT NOW?
I would be a sad old git.

WHAT SKILLS DO YOU LIKE PERFORMING AND WHY?
Facilitating, Writing and directing fabulous shows.

WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE IN 5 YEARS TIME?
On a beach in the shade with a long cool drink.

WHY DO WE NEED CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE IN THE WORLD?
It is such an amazing discipline. It encourages the best in people. The circus family is one of the best families to belong to.

 

gwenGwen passionately and steadily nurtured Theatre Kimberley from the ground up. Operating under the umbrella of Theatre Kimberley, Sandfly Circus was begun over ten years ago, providing opportunities for involving children and young people through its classes and community performances. Sandflies is currently made up of approximately 80 children and young people participating across four regular weekly classes. Sandfly Circus students work with a cohort of local trainers in Broome, and the skills of local trainers are often supplement by visiting artists in residence from other places. Sandflies addresses a number of needs in the local region. Importantly this includes reducing inequalities in access to programmes that enhance skill sharing and essential tools and that may assist young people to make healthy and creative life choices.

www.theatrekimberley.org.au

Charlie hula hooping

Charlie Wilkins

Charlie Wilkins was this year’s National Youth Circus Day Spirit of Circus National Award Winner. He was nominated by Lolly Jar Circus and recognised by ACAPTA for embodying the values, vitality and passion of the circus arts in his commitment to training, performing, teaching and breathing circus!

Lolly Jar Circus nominated Charlie because “He is a dedicated trainer who works voluntarily on the days he is not rostered.  He mixes well with trainers and participants alike.  The fact that he has Down Syndrome is just that, a fact, a part of who he is.  He is not a successful performer or trainer in spite of that or because of that, but because of his lovely personality and physical dedication.”

We asked Charlie to share a little bit about himself in light of his recent award and acknowledgement.

Charlie hula hoopingHOW DID YOU GET INTO CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE?
My mum heard about it.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO?
Basketball, swimming, dance, acting.

WHAT DOES CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE MEAN TO YOU?
Makes me happy.

WHAT’S THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE CAREER SO FAR?
Performed with Cirkidz at opening of therapy house.

IF YOU WEREN’T DOING CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING RIGHT NOW?
At home, watching “Friends”!

WHAT SKILLS DO YOU LIKE PERFORMING AND WHY?
Hula Hoops make me smile.

WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE IN 5 YEARS TIME?
At college.

WHY DO WE NEED CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE IN THE WORLD?
To make people happy.

 

ACAPTA would like to congratulate and honour all of the nominees of the Spirit of Circus Award, who we celebrate for helping make youth circus in Australia a powerful force for change! You can view the full list of nominees here: www.acapta.org.au/national-youth-circus-day-spirit-of-circus/

 

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Australian Circus & Physical Theatre Association