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Circus

Review: You & I

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Review: You & I

You & I is a great concept, and an excellent piece of theatre. The premise of the show is deceptively simple. It’s raining, which means that plans to go out are abandoned and you’re stuck at home with your husband. Fortunately, this is not a day for household chores, as this particular couple spend a loving and tender hour tumbling, hooping, lifting, spinning, dancing and playing together.

Circus certainly lends itself to providing a window into a loving relationship—particularly if you are a married couple, and are two of the co-founders of Casus Circus.  Jesse Scott and Lachlan McAulay’s partnership extends beyond the professional to the personal, which means that the You & I includes powerful strength, great tumbling and control, amazing and memorable trapeze, and a very special twist on the stacking chairs. This piece is also funny, playful, and tender; after all, who hasn’t struggled to walk in heels, had fun exploring dress-up boxes, or wanted to tango in quite such an intimate way.

You & I is a highly-personal piece,  as it is co-created by the two performers in every sense of the phrase. From lighting and soundtrack choices through to trick selection and set design, Scott and McAulay are in control, which means the piece is authentic and every detail thought through (even down to the careful wood-carving and rope-splicing). The lighting, soundtrack and set all complemented the work. The soundtrack is well-chosen (for example, Jamey Johnson’s version of You Are My Sunshine was a perfect choice for  Scott’s solo trapeze piece), and the set establishes a home environment that is used to great effect.

 As skilled circus performers, McAulay and Scott have ensured that this personal show is jam-packed with tricks—drawing gasps of delight, amazement and even incomprehension from the audience (look out for Scott’s walking on ‘top-toe’—a whole new spin on the traditional tip-toes). It’s difficult to choose just one high-point, but I’m certain that everyone went way talking about the trapeze duet that culminated in McAulay’s exceptionally fast spin below Scott.  

Serious circus is a welcome trend, moving away from the trick—ta-dah—applause model, to storytelling through circus. In the last few years, I have seen some very serious circus pieces that have been used to consider many challenging subjects. It’s refreshing to see how McAulay and Scott push the boundaries by creating a story that is positive, loving, and full of hope. Audiences are all the richer for a show which provides a highly-relateable window into a loving relationship. Few of us will live in a yurt, and even fewer will have two trapeze bars hanging from the ceiling. And none of us are likely to even be able to tango with the same precision and focus. But we can all relate to a love story.

 A year on from its first performances, the show continues to evolve. So definitely one to look out for again. Just make sure you get to see it during this short 2019 Brisbane Festival run.

 Verdict: You & I is a show for all audiences. A great piece of theatre, with some exceptional circus skills.

Audience notes: 60 minutes. All ages. Seating at The Block (Theatre Republic) is theatre-style, raked seating. Consider queueing to sit nearer to the front if you can. Strictly six performances only during the 2019 Brisbane Festival performances—24-28 September 2019 (1:00pm & 5:00pm shows on 28 September 2019; 7:30pm shows 24-27 September). Tickets are $20-35 (plus booking fee, note that the Festival uses ‘airline pricing’ for the Show, so select the lowest available price on booking).

Catherine Lawrence

The reviewer attended the Wednesday 25 September 2019 performance (7:30pm), and post-show Q&A.

Q&A Picture Credit: Creative Futures Photography

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Review: We Live Here (Brisbane Festival)

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Review: We Live Here (Brisbane Festival)

In an era where so many people speak of having so little time, acronyms can be very popular. So if you want the quick version of this review (and, after all, there are only three more performances of this show in the 2019 Brisbane Festival program. We Live Here opened on Friday, and has two shows on Saturday and a final performance on Sunday)…

FoMO? IMHO DMTS  …that is…do you have a Fear of Missing Out? In My Honest Opinion …Don’t Miss This Show.

The 2019 Brisbane Festival is teeming with many fantastic options. It can be difficult to choose... which might mean that some patrons might first be tempted to skip over a show that is listed under ‘circus’ and ‘family.’ Which would be a pity. This is circus that made the opening night audience smile, brought tears to a few eyes, drew many gasps of admiration, and ended with a well-deserved standing ovation.

Age & time are important themes in this show. We Live Here was originally commissioned by Metro Arts, as a collaboration between Flipside Circus (known for providing circus opportunities for young people) and Hummingbird House (one of only three hospices for children in Australia—and the only facility providing respite and end of life care for Queensland children). So yes, this is a show that combines the work of young performers, with stories about the short lives of the guests in the care of Hummingbird House, and reminders of the time-pressures faced by the parents of some very sick children.

Watching, enthralled, it was occasionally difficult to remember that the talented performers and co-creators (Indra Garvey, Mia Hughes, Amy Stuart, Skip Walker-Milne and Luke Whitefield) are all under 30. And that three of the cast are under 18. Together, the performers demonstrate a great maturity: in the standard of their theatrical and circus performance, and in their reflections on (and response to) the stories that are at the heart of the show.

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Pictured:  We Live Here,  Brisbane Festival 2019   (Indra Garvey, Mia Hughes, Amy Stuart, Skip Walker-Milne and Luke Whitefield). Pictures credit:  Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured: We Live Here, Brisbane Festival 2019 (Indra Garvey, Mia Hughes, Amy Stuart, Skip Walker-Milne and Luke Whitefield). Pictures credit: Creative Futures Photography.

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We Live Here is an inspired theatrical event: five Flipside Circus performers and creators, a time-focused video projection and a moving soundtrack that includes the words of Hummingbird House staff and parents (Mik La Vage, Audio and Projection Designer), and the leadership and creativity of Natano Fa’anana and Bridget Boyle (Co-Directors). I had the opportunity to see this show in November 2018, and was greatly impressed then (click here for more). The 2019 Brisbane Festival production was even funnier, but also more touching; it also provided an opportunity for the young co-creators to demonstrate their growing circus and acrobatic skills. The 2019 Festival show demonstrates the versatility of the piece and performers. We Live Here works in many different performance spaces, so I do hope that it will tour, and ensure wider audiences can experience the work.

The circus skills are outstanding: amazing loose rope work, impressive strength and lifts, flexible and flowing acrobatics, and some fabulous hula hooping. But this is also an impressive theatrical work; an experience that will stay with you long after the show. It’s funny (watch out for the family pool scene), and it’s thought-provoking (you’ll be mesmerised by the circus work illustrating the minute-by-minute daily pressures faced by the ‘mother’). Your kids will love the acrobatics and fun, and you’ll reflect on an amazing performance that makes you think about what really matters in life (and have a renewed admiration for the work of the parents who devote their lives to their terminally-ill kids, and the vital work of hospice care staff).  Don’t miss out. Go.

Verdict: Go. Brisbane Festival, Hummingbird House and Flipside Circus. Three great reasons to be very proud of Queensland.

Audience tip: Book a ticket while you can—only 5 performances during the 2019 Brisbane Festival (5 September preview, plus 6-8 September, 7:00pm each evening plus 4:30pm on 7 September and 2:00pm on Sunday 8 September). 55 minutes. 5+. Tickets are $28 (plus booking fee).

Catherine Lawrence

The reviewer attended the opening night performance (7pm, Friday 6 September 2019). Note: A shorter version of this review appears on the 2019 Brisbane Festival IMHO (In My Honest Opinion) website.  

Pictures Credit: Creative Futures Photography

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Review: Skyward

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Review: Skyward


Skyward is a great concept. Built on the friendship between Jo Willans (Soprano) and Georgia-Elizabeth Bale (aerialist), the Show combines live music, video projections, aerial hoop and tissu, with a beautiful voice and selection of relaxing music. On arrival, members of the audience were encouraged to sit on the floor (mats and cushions provided) or in seats facing the ‘stage,’ and we all received a copy of the program which spoke of mindfulness, and how “the movement, music, poetry and imagery of Skyward are designed to mellow and move you.”   

There were many things I enjoyed about this production: the interactions between the soprano and aerialist (particularly when Willans performed on, and with, the hoop), the selection of costumes, the tissu work by Bale, the incorporation of the video projections (Michael Owen)and some of the musical choices (Toby Saltwell [cello] and John Woods [piano]). In addition, it is always fascinating to see the ‘behind-the-scenes care and hard work of the crew (Ashleigh Freed and Ruby Simpson).

Pictured (L to R):  Georgia-Elizabeth Bale (aerialist), and Jo Willans (Soprano). Picture credit:  Creative Futures Photography .

Pictured (L to R): Georgia-Elizabeth Bale (aerialist), and Jo Willans (Soprano). Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

The Anywhere Festival challenge for any aerialist is finding a suitable space to perform. In an ideal world, it would have been wonderful to experience this show by a beach, or with a water view. But the video projections were used to good effect to establish that mood, playing against the brick walls of the space. (Credit is also due to the space and hosts. Vulcana work out of a great space, which has hosted many memorable Anywhere Festival performances (including the 2015 Learning to Love Gravity and 2018 Invisible Things).

The collaborators’ aim was to create 45 mindful minutes. For a future iteration, I would suggest the team might wish to look at how they could minimise the breaks between each piece (reducing the entrance/exit process, to sustain the flow of the program). I would also suggest that the audience might be encouraged to adopt a more mindful engagement with the performance. Perhaps to look ‘Skyward;’  to set aside cameras and other electronic devices, particularly if seated in the floor area, so that everyone can experience the work firsthand.

There were only two performances  of Skyward in the 2019 Anywhere Festival program. Let’s hope that the team find other places and spaces for future performances which build on this concept.

Picture (L to R):  Georgia-Elizabeth Bale (aerialist), Jo Willans (Soprano). John Woods (piano), and Toby Saltwell (cello). Picture credit:  Creative Futures Photography .

Picture (L to R): Georgia-Elizabeth Bale (aerialist), Jo Willans (Soprano). John Woods (piano), and Toby Saltwell (cello). Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.



Verdict: Keep an eye out for future creative collaborations between this team.

Audience tip: 45 minutes. Late arrivals not admitted, so arrive early for any future productions.

Catherine Lawrence. perspectives

The reviewer attended the Sunday 12 May 2019 performance (8:00pm), at Vulcana (adjacent to The Brisbane Powerhouse, New Farm, Brisbane.

Pictures Credit: Creative Futures Photography.

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Review: We Live Here

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Review: We Live Here

Deathfest, first seen in 2016, returns in a 2.0 version—Deathfest 2.0: A Duel with Death. Described as Australia’s first arts and culture festival on death, dying and the best way to live, the Metro Arts team has curated an important artistic response and provocation, designed to encourage discussions and reflection on dying and living. Central to the project, is We Live Here: commissioned by Metro Arts and developed by Flipside Circus (from an original concept by Jo Thomas), in conjunction with Hummingbird House, Robert Kronk (Dramaturg & Creator), with Natano Fa’anana and Bridget Boyle (Directors & Creators). It is an inspired commission.

Circus and death may appear an unlikely pairing: circus has connotations of life and laughter, in contrast with the sorrow and pain associated with death. But, as the Flipside Circus team so ably demonstrate, there are many parallels. Both depend on trust and determination, and require care and trained support. And just as Hummingbird House is clearly so very much more than ‘just’ a hospice, We Live Here is more than a catalogue of impressive circus skills.

We Live Here is a theatrical event: combining the work of five talented circus performers and creators (Indra Garvey, Mia Hughes, Amy Stuart, Skip Walker-Milne and Luke Whitefield), with great time-focused video projection and a moving soundtrack that included the words of parents, staff and supporters associated with Hummingbird House (Mik La Vage, Audio and Projection Designer). I have previously seen the talented Hughes, Whitefield, and Garvey as three members of the cast of eleven performers in Fusion (Flipside Circus’ 2017 Anywhere Festival production). And, again, they didn’t disappoint. From the compelling beginning of the show—where one of the younger performers portrayed the experience of being a child requiring complete care and support to move, manipulated and moving with the support of the rest of the cast—we were hooked.

Time, as the production reminds us, marches on. For the parents of life-limited children, time moves exceptionally fast—memorably demonstrated by Stuart on the clock-face treadmill of parental tasks accounting for every minute in a morning, concluding with “and it all begins again.” And this was not the only moment where Stuart, as a ‘mother figure,’ held the family together — often quite literally a circus tower of strength.

 
Pictured : Amy Stuart (strength), Skip Walker-Milne (handstand), with Mia Hughes, Luke Whitefield, and Indra Garvey. Picture credit:  Creative Futures Photography .

Pictured: Amy Stuart (strength), Skip Walker-Milne (handstand), with Mia Hughes, Luke Whitefield, and Indra Garvey. Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

 

Stuart gave a compelling central performance, not only with some of the best hoop manipulation I’ve seen in a long while, but also in producing some wonderful strength work. Indeed, Stuart often seemed to have the rest of the cast on her shoulders, including a great ‘duet’ with Walker-Milne, who walked the Loose Rope. But every member of the cast worked well in the ensemble, and also had the opportunity to shine and demonstrate their individual skills, with every move connecting with the audio and illustrating aspects of the Hummingbird House story. Walker-Milne’s work on the Chinese Pole was a fluid, and fabulous highlight. But we were equally impressed with the balance work on the seats of the chairs, the humorous interchanges between the younger members of the cast, the climb up the stairs on the backs of fellow cast members, and the range of circus abilities on show.

Life-limiting conditions, respite and hospice care are connected with images of sorrow and death. But, as the audio and performance reminded us, families also seek ‘ordinary’ memories of love and laughter; of parties, hair-braiding and of playing together. One of the funniest parts of We Live Here had to be the creation of the ‘family’ playing in the pool, complete with goggles and a rendition of their own version of synchronised swimming Swan Lake cygnets (although we also enjoyed the performance of the romantic rooftop ‘date,’ created by the Hummingbird House team to provide respite for one couple).

Hummingbird House is one of only 3 hospices for children in Australia, and the only facility providing respite and end of life care for Queensland children. The organisation seeks toprovide best practice short break stays and care at the end of life for children with a life-limiting condition and their families, and to help families discover moments and create memories to last a lifetime.’ In We Live Here, the Hummingbird-Flipside collaborators have created wonderful memories that will live for many lifetimes, and deserves to attract more supporters for both organisations. The Metro Arts commission is an inspired jewel in the Deathfest 2.0 program, bringing stories and experiences of the families of younger people with life-limiting conditions to life through the work of young circus performers. We Live Here is a fruitful and inspiring collaboration—illustrating the vital work of Hummingbird House and the skills of the Flipside Circus creatives, creators and performers.

Verdict: Exceptional. I really hope this show gets more than the scheduled three performances. See it if you can. Look out for future productions by Flipside Circus, and why not find out more about the much-needed work by the Hummingbird House team.

Audience tip: 55 minutes There are only three performances of We Live Here in the 2018 Deathfest program (2nd November, 7pm, with two shows on 3rd November at 3pm and 7pm) Tickets $10. Why not keep an eye on the website and book ahead for future events in the Metro Arts program.

Catherine Lawrence

The reviewer attended the Friday 2nd November 2018 performance (7:00pm).

Pictures Credit: Creative Futures Photography.

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

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Review: Fusion

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Review: Fusion

There are times when I wish I was ten again. Last Friday evening was one of them. As the lights dimmed and the first performer appeared on the stage—casually ‘walking’ along on a rolling oil drum while holding a painters palette, and smiling confidently at the audience—I wished circus school has been an option ‘back in the day.’ For the next 56 minutes the troupe of 11 performers (Jedda Bell, Mia Hughes, Kelsey Booth, Alana Langley, Luke Whitfield, Indra Garvey, Indigo Macrokanis, Tula Homes, Zebedee Davies, Nina O’Brien, and Victoria Mattison) presented a highly-professional and often very polished show that ‘fused’ comedy, tumbling, trapeze, plate-twirling, juggling, and more. And all without safety nets.

Pictured: Members of the Fusion Troupe (Jedda Bell, Mia Hughes, Kelsey Booth, Alana Langley, Luke Whitfield, Indra Garvey, Indigo Macrokanis, Tula Homes, Zebedee Davies, Nina O’Brien, and Victoria Mattison). Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured: Members of the Fusion Troupe (Jedda Bell, Mia Hughes, Kelsey Booth, Alana Langley, Luke Whitfield, Indra Garvey, Indigo Macrokanis, Tula Homes, Zebedee Davies, Nina O’Brien, and Victoria Mattison). Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

The show was tightly directed to allow each performer to present some of their specialities to an enthusiastic audience. Everyone will have had their own favourites. I was very impressed by the strength work, the chair ‘climbing’ (when reaching for the balloons) was really well done, and the ‘spoonful of sugar’ trapeze work was superb (elegantly demonstrating wonderful control and skill). It was great to see such a range of ages in the group: the older performers demonstrating skills in strength and in major set-pieces (such as the Carmen-style rope work). Some of the younger members of the troupe really shone—for example, when the “puppet” freed herself from the strings to be able to work with hoops while balanced on a ball, and when participating in some of the tumbling and dance.

Pictured: Members of the Fusion Troupe (Jedda Bell, Mia Hughes, Kelsey Booth, Alana Langley, Luke Whitfield, Indra Garvey, Indigo Macrokanis, Tula Homes, Zebedee Davies, Nina O’Brien, and Victoria Mattison). Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured: Members of the Fusion Troupe (Jedda Bell, Mia Hughes, Kelsey Booth, Alana Langley, Luke Whitfield, Indra Garvey, Indigo Macrokanis, Tula Homes, Zebedee Davies, Nina O’Brien, and Victoria Mattison). Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

I do hope that Flipside Circus can find the funds for a new speaker system, or get the sound operator to turn the sound down a little (as one of the speakers vibrated and cackled quite alarmingly at various stages, which was a distraction). And if I had to suggest changes, well I might not have included singing or playing the sax in a circus revue, and would have liked to have seen a little more of the comedy ‘fights’ in the first half, as they worked so well when threaded throughout  the second half of the show. But these are tiny points. A talented troupe of performers, showing the skills they have learned and entertaining not only proud Mums and Dads but also a broader critical audience.

Pictured: A member of the Fusion Troupe (Jedda Bell, Mia Hughes, Kelsey Booth, Alana Langley, Luke Whitfield, Indra Garvey, Indigo Macrokanis, Tula Homes, Zebedee Davies, Nina O’Brien, and Victoria Mattison). Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured: A member of the Fusion Troupe (Jedda Bell, Mia Hughes, Kelsey Booth, Alana Langley, Luke Whitfield, Indra Garvey, Indigo Macrokanis, Tula Homes, Zebedee Davies, Nina O’Brien, and Victoria Mattison). Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

I know I’d never have been able to perform at the level demonstrated by the Fusion Performance Troupe. But how lucky are these students to have had the chance. Flipside Circus offer classes during school terms and school holiday workshops and advise that they are “suitable for everybody; ages from 18 months – adults, all skill levels, and all abilities” (http://www.flipsidecircus.org.au/). That particular tent may have gone for me, but having seen ‘Fusion,’ I am sure there are many people who may just have been inspired to give it a go. 

Catherine Lawrence

The reviewer attended the 19th May 2017 (7:30pm) performance.

Tickets http://anywheretheatre.com/listings/fusion/ $0-22 (children under 5 free).  60 minutes.  The show had only 5 performances during the 2017 Anywhere Festival (12th-20th May).

 

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Review: The Circus Claire Show

Pictured (Lto R): Circus Clare (   Claire Ogden), Boris (Shane Smith), Julio 2 (Lachlan Snow [glasses]) and Dimitri (Simon Arnold [Dad]).  Picture Credit : Geoff Lawrence,  Creative Futures Photography .

Pictured (Lto R): Circus Clare (Claire Ogden), Boris (Shane Smith), Julio 2 (Lachlan Snow [glasses]) and Dimitri (Simon Arnold [Dad]). Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

In a joyous 45-minute show, the bubbly and slightly-wacky Circus Claire (Claire Ogden) illustrates a  journey of self-discovery with hula hoops, juggling, partner acrobatics, aerial tissue, physical comedy, and dance. You’ll come out ‘Walking on Sunshine’ (and not just because of the music selection).  The Circus Claire Show is a charismatic performance by a versatile and skilled circus artist.

The premise behind the show is deceptively simple. Circus Clare performs an entertaining monologue about a stage career that includes everything from being an ABBA Tribute back-up dancer (at Wavell Services Club no less) through to being one half of an acrobatic duo. At each juncture, the story is illustrated with new skills learned and acts mastered. We listen to the ups and downs of a circus love story, and hear how Circus Clare pursued a range of different acts before realising that her true passion is for the hula hoop.  

Every member of the 40+ audience had a great view (fantastic facilities at Flipside Circus include comfortable raked seating) and a personal ‘ welcome to my new friends’ from Circus Clare. Younger members of the audience were mesmerised—from the chance to say hello and tell Circus Clare their name, until the opportunity for a photograph with the star at the end of the show. 

Pictured (Lto R): Circus Clare (Claire Ogden), and Boris (Shane Smith). Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured (Lto R): Circus Clare (Claire Ogden), and Boris (Shane Smith). Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

But even if you feel your own circus days were long-gone, everyone can enjoy the skilled display of hula hooping, acrobatics, aerial tissue and juggling. The music choices kept the mood upbeat (music included ABBA, The Weather Girls, and Katrina and the Waves—courtesy of sound/technical support by Kelsey Adams), and the mixture of solo/duo work, speech and dance provide great variety.

The program is a well-judged combination of comedy and skill. I particularly enjoyed the humour of the guest appearances by ‘Boris’ (Shane Smith), ‘Julio 2’ (on the evening I attended, performed by the co-opted Lachlan Snow [glasses]) and ‘Dimitri ‘(on 15th May, courtesy of Simon Arnold [Dad]). The acrobatic/strength ‘pas-de-deux’ with ‘Boris’—in and out of love—were superb. And I hope that Lachlan and Simon get a chance to dine out for many days to come on their hula-hooping and good-natured involvement in the show.

Pictured: A juggling Circus Clare (Claire Ogden). Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured: A juggling Circus Clare (Claire Ogden). Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Claire Ogden is a skilled performer (performing solo and with Shane Smith as the comedic acrobatic duo Scrambled Legs), and teacher (offering a range of circus classes). The Circus Clare Show premiered as part of the 2015 Wonderland Festival—the year when Circus Clare was selected as a Peoples’ Choice Award winner, following her participation in Brisbane’s Guinness World Record ‘World’s Biggest Busk’.  If you get the chance to see her in action in The Circus Clare Show (only one more performance remaining) then go.

Verdict: Great Fun—take your Mum, Dad, and friends along. Be warned… you may find you want to run away to the circus too (or at least sign up for the Circus Clare classes).

Audience Tip: It’s easy to find. Just look out for the hula hoop students (complete with led hoops and fairy light hats) at the Flipside Circus turning off Mina Parade.

Catherine Lawrence

The reviewer attended the Sunday 15th  2016 performance. This short run ends on Saturday 21st 2016 (see the Anywhere Festival website for tickets/ details). The production is available for touring, so if you miss it this time keep an eye open for future shows.

Pictured (Lto R): Julio 2 (Lachlan Snow), Circus Clare (Claire Ogden), and Dimitri (Simon Arnold). Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured (Lto R): Julio 2 (Lachlan Snow), Circus Clare (Claire Ogden), and Dimitri (Simon Arnold). Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

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Review: The Spirit And The Maiden

Pictured   (L to R): Alison Snook, with   The Muses Trio  —Christa Powell (violin), Therese Milanovic (piano), and Louise King (cello).   Picture Credit  : Geoff Lawrence,   Creative Futures Photography  .

Pictured (L to R): Alison Snook, with The Muses Trio—Christa Powell (violin), Therese Milanovic (piano), and Louise King (cello). Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

The Muses Trio  describe their work as ‘celebrating music by women, performed by women.’ It was an inspired idea to launch their debut CD (The Spirit and the Maiden) inside the Boggo Road Gaol as an Anywhere Festival event: celebrating music by female composers, with performances by women (including special guests from Vulcana Women’s Circus) taking place inside the women-only wing of a former prison. Christa Powell (violin, Topology), Louise King (Cello, Cello Dreaming) and Therese Milanovic (piano, Topology), demonstrated their virtuosity in an edgy, compelling, powerful, memorable and often-moving performance.

Pictured: Christa Powell. Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured: Christa Powell. Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

The artists played a selection of the pieces from their new CD, providing insights and information as personal introductions as to the selection of the piece or the life of the composer. Powell spoke touchingly about Amy Beach, introducing Romance with reference to the restrictions placed on Beach’s work(when “imprisoned by time and gender,” and restricted by her husband to holding soirées at home).  However, many of the pieces selected by The Muses Trio for the CD are written by their contemporaries. Milanovic talked of the value of direct feedback on recordings, or what she described—when welcoming composer Louise Denson to the launch—as a “dialogue” and a “really lovely process.” Such insights enhanced the experience. For example, Milanovicheld the audience spellbound as she played the charming Song for Comb Man (Kate Neal), having first introduced Neal’s work by encouraging us to look at You Tube video of the TropFest short film which includes the composition. King referred to Nadia Boulanger as “a trailblazer,” before an electric performance of selections from Three pieces for cello and piano. And, having first heard from the composer, in the hands of The Muses Trio Denson’s emotional, lyrical Two Boleros (violin, cello, piano) had us enthralled.

Pictured: Alison Snook, Therese Milanovic (piano), Christa Powell (violin), and Louise King (Cello ) with Vulcana Women’s Circus (Performers Bianca Mackail, Rachael Gibson, Abby Kelso and Ellen Grow). Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured: Alison Snook, Therese Milanovic (piano), Christa Powell (violin), and Louise King (Cello ) with Vulcana Women’s Circus (Performers Bianca Mackail, Rachael Gibson, Abby Kelso and Ellen Grow). Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

The performance was a launch of a CD, but may also have been the beginning of a productive partnership between The Muses Trio and VulcanaWomen’s Circus. Artistic Director Celia White (with Co-Director Michelle Grant) created a mesmerizing performance which opened the second half of the production. Performers Bianca Mackail, Rachael Gibson, Abby Kelso and Ellen Grow, evoked the spirits of Boggo Road inmates as they moved into the space—and impressed with their strength, control and elegance in duets on ‘silks’ (in this case thick nets, which seemed so appropriate for the jail).

Pictured: Vulcana Women’s Circus (Performers Bianca Mackail, Rachael Gibson, Abby Kelso and Ellen Grow). Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured: Vulcana Women’s Circus (Performers Bianca Mackail, Rachael Gibson, Abby Kelso and Ellen Grow). Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

The event included an optional addition of a ghost tour. Sadly the Boggo Road Gaol is about to close for a major change: the modern buildings are to be demolished and heritage spaces ‘adapted’. If you want to see a piece of Brisbane’s heritage before it disappears, why not visit the website to book a tour.  If you buy a copy of The Spirit and the Maiden CD you can then listen to the music when you visit, and try to imagine the Anywhere Festival experience (links to purchase the CD & digital albums are available via the The Muses Trio website).

The performance concluded with a list of acknowledgements and thanks for the many supporters of the work of The Muses Trio. Congratulations to Alison Snook for the attentive page turning—and to Boyds for managing to supply and safely deliver a grand piano into the cellblock.

Verdict: Spine-chilling—an inspired launch event. Visit Boggo Road Gaol while you can, and look out for The Spirit and the Maiden CD.

Catherine Lawrence

The reviewer attended the Saturday 14th 2016 matinee performance. The launch takes place over three performances, 14-15th May 2016 (see the Anywhere Festival website for details).

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Review: Learning To Love Gravity

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Review: Learning To Love Gravity

Lara Croydon (Performer—The Orphan), upside down, and Sarah McLeod (Performer—The Stranger), standing, in  Learning to Love Gravity  at Brisbane’s Powerhouse, 10  th     May 2015. Picture credit:   Geoff Lawrence .

Lara Croydon (Performer—The Orphan), upside down, and Sarah McLeod (Performer—The Stranger), standing, in Learning to Love Gravity at Brisbane’s Powerhouse, 10th May 2015. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

One of the many great things about festivals (and festival fringe programs) is that audiences get to see many works at an early stage in the creative process. This is not new in Brisbane. Brisbane Festival has previously had a number of ‘work in progress’ events. For example, I particularly enjoyed Expressions Dance’s First Ritual (an ‘in progress’ show which combined commentary from the choreographer/director with excerpts from the work in 2010, before the production returned to the Judith Wright Centre a year later). Having had the opportunity to see the briefing the year before greatly enhanced my experience of the final production. Much in the same way, I am looking forward to seeing future iterations of Learning to Love Gravity, a work in development presented by PlayOn Productions  and Vulcana Women’s Circus at the Brisbane Powerhouse Stores Building.

Alexander Bayliss (writer) has taken an early idea, suggested by Lara Croydon (Performer-The Orphan), to produce a text that encourages us to reflect on the importance of “the ones that complete us: our friends, our family…our gravity.” The 30 minute work centres on the interactions between the gravity-fearing Orphan and the visitingStranger (Sarah McLeod). The two performers worked really well together, capturing the child-like nature of their characters with some great comic timing.

Sarah McLeod (Performer—The Stranger) in Learning to Love Gravity at Brisbane’s Powerhouse, 10th May 2015. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

Sarah McLeod (Performer—The Stranger) in Learning to Love Gravity at Brisbane’s Powerhouse, 10th May 2015. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

The concept is a simple one: a smooth amalgam of theatre and circus. Being a gravity-loving person myself, I am always impressed by those who can move effortlessly from silk to trapeze, or even spend significant amounts of time suspended upside down from the rafters. To engage in such physical theatre, while acting and speaking at the same time, was even more impressive and enjoyable to watch.

Lara Croydon (Performer—The Orphan) in Learning to Love Gravity at Brisbane’s Powerhouse, 10th May 2015. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

Lara Croydon (Performer—The Orphan) in Learning to Love Gravity at Brisbane’s Powerhouse, 10th May 2015. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

Until I read the program, available at the venue, I wasn’t aware that Learning to Love Gravity was what the Director’s note referred to as a “first showing” (Steve Pirie, Director). I must admit, I was expecting a little more circus, or physical theatre, and perhaps a little less of the spoken word. But it’s a work in progress, and I realise that this balance may shift as the piece develops and lengthens.

I do hope that, as the work progresses, there can be more investment in the lighting (particularly of some of the work ‘in the rafters’). I also felt that the venue didn’t always help with the sound; the performers may need to slow down some of the speeches a little, as the sound can echo around the space. But these are small quibbles, and didn’t affect my overall enjoyment.

I saw the show on 10th May, 2015. There are three more opportunities to see this work in progress as part of Brisbane’s Anywhere Festival. It is on again on 22nd, 23rd, and 24th May, 2015.

Learning to Love Gravity shows just what is Pozible with crowdfunding support. Congratulations to all the people who ensured it became part of the Anywhere festival. I’d suggest you invest $19: take the opportunity to make your own mind up, and help the team fund the next stage of work on Learning to Love Gravity.

 Catherine Lawrence

  

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