www.weeklytimesnow.com.au By SARAH HUDSON- October 23, 2013
THE famed Flying Fruit Fly Circus can open doors, writes SARAH HUDSON
It’s a visual treat to enter the Flying Fruit Fly Circus building in Albury. Behind a giant glass wall, next to reception, is a buzz of energy and colour: children juggle tenpins, twirl hula hoops, twist on dangling ropes and perform backflips.
Scott Grayland’s office overlooks this spectacle. As training director, it’s his job to keep a close eye on his elite charges, the 80-plus children aged eight to 18 who combine school and circus in a hope that one day they’ll enter the highly competitive world of the big top.
Scott understands this world intimately, having worked for Cirque du Soleil, Circus Oz and around the globe. In his home town of Albury, Scott is something of a legend, his career mirroring that of the renowned 35-year-old children’s circus group.
“I was at Albury North High School, Year 10, and I remember kids saying there was someone at the school seeing whether we were interested in joining a new circus group,” says Scott, a keen athlete.
“After school I went to this exact building, it was the old YMCA, and joined. It was easy back then. If you wanted to be involved you just turned up.”
And so not only was Scott’s career born, but also that of the Flying Fruit Fly Circus – at first a project of the Murray River Performing Group.
“It was just meant to be a one-off performance, but at some point they decided it was a success and they’d do another performance.”
Over the next decades, The Flying Fruit Fly Circus took off in leaps and bounds, touring around the globe, at the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics, 2006 Commonwealth Games and now a rural tour next year.
When Scott hit 18, he joined with other ex-members to form a one-off group The Leapers, performing around the Riverina for a year.
Then came a series of career highlights: working with Chinese acrobats in the ancient arts, Circus Oz, Sydney’s Stalker Theatre, New York’s AntiGravity, all the while refining his signature acts, the cloud swing, an aerial rope act and Chinese hoop diving.
“Some performers see this lifestyle as rock ‘n’ roll. But I found the shows incredibly physical so I looked after myself. Not too much partying,” Scott, 48, says.
It was those physical demands that one day in 1996 saw Scott fall from a height and shatter his right leg in 35 places. He spent three years in recovery, which prompted a change of lifestyle. He yearned for a quiet country life and in the early 2000s returned to Albury where he became the training director.
Scott says auditions are held yearly for entry into the “Fruities”, with some families moving to Albury to allow children to attend; others are billeted to local families.
“My professional life was kicked off by the Flying Fruit Flies,” he says.
“Now I’m back here passing that on to the next generations, who have the same aspirations I did.”
PHOTO: Training director Scott Grayland with student Casey Wood. Picture: Greg Scullin