The recent Melbourne Fringe Festival offered a fantastic circus and physical theatre program, with award nominees and winners from many parts of Australia.  This got us thinking that it would be a good time to share a snapshot of what’s happening the different states and territories by putting a few questions to some ACAPTA members and friends.

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Queensland – Deb Wilks, Director, Cluster Arts

What are you excited about that’s happening in Circus and Physical theatre in QLD right now?

There are great things happening in Queensland at the moment, I mean the three shows nominated for best circus at the Melbourne Fringe 2016 – Company 2 – Sediment, Casus Circus- Restrung and Hannah Cryle’s The Loneliest Number – all come from Queensland. I’m excited as I watch and support circus companies in Queensland become fully established independent performing arts companies. Taking control of their own businesses and not being reliant on funding but selling serious dollars in work international.

What’s changing? Where do you see things going? In five years’ time what will Circus and Physical theatre in Queensland look like?

As I mentioned the independent companies are feisty and have decided NOT to follow the funding model. For long term viability they are setting their companies up as PTY LTD business – not NOT FOR PROFITS. They are becoming better educated about obtaining sponsorship and the development of strong business relationships to prosper.

The growth of the Gold Coast Corridor supported by the Gold Coast Council is another development as work begins to better unite circus companies who work along the Gold Coast – right through to Spaghetti in Mullumbimby.

In five years it would be good to see a strong circus and physical theatre hub continuing in Brisbane with a better place to present work. Also a stronger focus on injury prevention and management for artists – it disturbs me as I watch young artists become injured and turned out to pasture rather than supporting them on their return to the stage. A stronger circus ecology that allows artists to earn good money. For example, Casus have just increased their pay rates to ALL their artists and are working towards even better rates and ongoing employment.

What’s something that circus artists and or teachers from QLD bring to the national scene?

A sense of community I think. In Queensland the scene works well because most within it will work to help and support other companies. They reach out to assist - i.e. Providing accommodation at short notice, assisting with training space, sharing ideas and artistic space. People comment about the generosity of spirit of the Queenslanders. This has got to be a plus to bring to the national scene.

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Western Australia – Dawn Pascoe, Artistic Director, Natural Wings

0z9c7900dust-shoot_anton_blume-dawnWhat are you excited about that’s happening in Circus and Physical theatre in Western Australia right now?

The most exciting thing is collaboration. I’m in few projects at the moment where I’m collaborating not only with circus artists, but also with directors, dance choreographers, puppeteers and riggers. I’ve been in Perth for 10 years as a professional circus artist, and there’s definitely been a shift into the lovely world of collaboration! I’m really excited for my career and for the direction of circus in WA, cos I know its headed somewhere pretty special.

What’s changing? Where do you see things going? In five years’ time what will Circus and Physical theatre in WA look like?

Performing at outdoor festivals is a big part of the circus scene at the moment, and I think this will continue, but we are all upping our game with the quality of our shows, from choreography to costume and makeup, and making them more creative as well as spectacular.

Touring and Indoor shows will be the biggest change, where more collaborations will be happening to create these shows year round rather than just at Fringe time.

What’s something that circus artists and or teachers from WA bring to the national scene?

I think the biggest thing we bring is the fact that we are so isolated, we are relatively uninfluenced, so we make our own style. which is kinda cool. Isolating at times, but also very cool.

(The pic is from the Gascoyne in May festival this year, where I was on tour with about 12 creatives, performing in remote locations. It was amazing!  Photographer is Anton Blume from Simply Designed)

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South Australia – Joshua Hoare, Artistic Director, Cirkidz

Josh collected responses about what’s happening in SA, from Dylan Phillips (15) and Margot Mansfield (16), 2 young artists from SA Circus Centre who are part of Time and Space Circus. The company was just commissioned to present a work in QingDao , Shandong China.  

What are you excited about that’s happening in Circus and Physical theatre in SA right now?

Margot: I’m excited about the growing healthy relations with other world class artists. The opportunities for tours and training project in other countries and states. I’m excited and grateful that we have Adelaide Fringe on our doorstep and opportunities of meeting new artists and seeing innovative work never ends.

Dylan:  We just travelled with our show “Nonstop” to Qingdao, China.  It was an amazing experience for us, meeting people and making good connections but especially getting the opportunity to perform in front of big crowds and learning and adapting performing skills in different environment. It was a whole new step for our emerging company.

So many young artists are working hard and creating opportunities for themselves. We are lucky to train in a space where the environment is constantly pushing you to work hard and achieve your goals. We see this with many young artists being offered great opportunities, performances overseas, performing in big companies such as Circa, and making their own work. We also see many talented emerging artists auditioning for different universities such as NICA and DOCH (University of Dance and Circus, Sweden). It creates an energy and a culture to be hungry for results and train harder.

What’s changing? Where do you see things going? In five years’ time what will Circus and Physical theatre in SA look like?

Margot: The industry itself is changing all over the world. More artists are combining different art forms and expressing personality through movement.

I think: Circus in SA will be more diverse and many more will be interested in it. The common view of traditional circus will continue to melt away. Deeper messages will be brought to audiences yet they will not be obviously conveyed. Circus artists will continue to use their strengths and combine them with other art forms to appeal to a wider audience. Technology will have a big impact on improving people’s trainings and shows and many will start to use this advanced technology in Circus and Physical theatre to improve their work. The skill level will heighten as artists of today will challenge their physical limits and push to be better than the artists of yesterday.

Dylan: Circus is changing and as many know we are working in the industry of contemporary circus which has evolved from what’s known as traditional circus. We see such beautiful work coming out of SA and Australia onto many different platforms such as the Adelaide and Melbourne Fringe Festivals and international audiences. Young and creative performers expressing a feeling, a motive, an idea through beautiful movement in whatever form that might be.

What’s something that circus artists and or teachers from SA bring to the national scene?

Margot: I think together we bring diversity. Each individual circus artist, teacher and creator in SA has a different vision and different style, yet we can all collaborate freely to produce art.  Nationally and internationally we are prepared to inspire and learn from others.  We bring authenticity through our work. Individuality through our movement. Ideas and new skills to others. We think outside the box and aim to come up with new concepts that we can call our own.

We bring hunger. We are all hungry to get better and will not stop for less. We are hungry to be the best and are prepared to challenge our physical limits

Dylan: Circus is broad word and it can be what you want it to be. To us circus is movement, pushing your physical ability to move in ways that aren’t normal. We move differently for many different reasons, to impress the audience, to express emotion, to make tension, or evoke emotion. But most of all we do it cause it’s enjoyable. The fun we having challenging our selves and our bodies and performing for audiences is the reason we do circus.

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Australian Capital Territory – Aleshia Flanagan, Executive Director, Warehouse Circus

Aleshia didn’t have much time to respond because “there is so much happening in Circus in Canberra at the moment!”.  But here’s her brief rundown from her on what Warehouse Circus is up to:

“It has been a crazy week! We open our major work tomorrow at The Street Theatre alongside two other shows, Papillon and Dinosaur Time Machine as part of the Circus for Life Festival Professional Program. We also spent last weekend out at Floriade running our festival within a festival community program with heaps of great interactive events.

In other news, we recently hired the former head circus trainer for Cirque Du Soleil, Mikhail Galkin as our new full time Training Director and all round circus industry legend and teacher, Pip Scott, as our new Education and Training Coordinator. Pip will be co-employed by our partner high school, University of Canberra High School Kaleen and will be delivering our circus elective program in the school into the future.

We also have NICA in town this weekend with four Warehouse Circus graduates this year auditioning this coming Sunday at our space for the Bachelor’s degree at NICA”.