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Flipside Circus

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Review: Inertia, The First Law

Congratulations to the team at Anywhere Festival for attracting interstate and international acts for the 2019 Festival. The program for 2019 included a new work by Sydney-based RelativityMC. Inertia: The First Law is set in the Plant Room at Flipside Circus, which provides a pared-back environment and an intimate space in which to experience the Show. The three performers—Fin Casey (Moose), Maddison Costello, and Megan Casey—have together developed a piece is part circus (strength, acrobatics, dance, and balance), part original music and song, and part science lesson.

Don’t be put off by my mentioning science. This is a compelling piece of circus that demonstrates their combined versatility; from the raw energy required for some very taxing pieces of balance, through to their controlled ability to sing and share facts about laws of motion.

Pictured: Fin Casey jumping onto Megan Casey's back in   Inertia: The First Law   .  Picture credit:  Creative Futures Photography .

Pictured: Fin Casey jumping onto Megan Casey's back in Inertia: The First Law. Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

And it all made for some very memorable moments.  I winced as Moose jumped onto Megan’s back (twice), I marvelled at Moose’s jump from the top of the piano, I was impressed by Megan’s ability to sing after a particularly strenuous piece of acrobatics, and I enjoyed Maddison’s ability to do the splits (or balance on fellow performers’ heads) as well as to play the piano while balanced on her head.

The lighting was well-thought through (a nice touch with the red gel for Casey’s standing back-flip), the music added to the experience (with the home-built piano very literally incorporated in many of the moves), and I came away reflecting on the laws of motion, of balance and of circus. Yes, as an Anywhere event it would have been great to experience this in a music room or a science classroom—but perhaps this will come in a future development of the Show.

It’s a pity that Brisbane audiences only have three opportunities to see this new work. I am sure Sydney audiences will be lining up to see the piece when the performers return home.

Pictured: The cast of  Inertia: The First Law  (Megan Casey and Fin Casey, supporting Maddison Costello). Picture credit:  Creative Futures Photography .

Pictured: The cast of Inertia: The First Law (Megan Casey and Fin Casey, supporting Maddison Costello). Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

Verdict: Circus as science lesson, music as circus, science with song. A fascinating exploration of balance and motion.

Audience tip: Tickets for Inertia: The First Law available on the Anywhere Festival Website ($18). The 40-minute Show has a very short run of only three nights (15-18 May, 2019: 7pm).

Catherine Lawrence

The reviewer attended the Friday 17 May 2019 performance (7pm), Flipside Circus, 117 Mina Parade, Alderley.

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: Proximity

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Review: Proximity

Circus is often associated with fun and a demonstration of feats of skill and strength. Circus protest may conjure up thoughts of ethical treatment of animals, or female equality (both of which have been linked to protests associated with established circuses in recent years). But, reflecting on the opening night of Kelsey Laura’s Proximity, it appears to me that Serious Circus (or Circusactivism) is making its way to Brisbane.  Anywhere Festival 2018 includes a number of shows using circus or physical theatre as a means to tell stories and open up debate about some serious issues. For example, Alex Mizzen shared shares some of the rage and frustration associated with finding her own creative voice in Invisible Things. Kelsey Laura’s Proximity, seeks to explore and examine issues of consent. Very serious circus, indeed.

Pictured: Kelsey Laura, Proximity. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured: Kelsey Laura, Proximity. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

As a sensitive exploration of issues of consent, trust and safety, the audience are warned at the start about the subjects to be addressed (and the program provides details about a range of support and counselling services). And then we walk out, into the dark, and toward the staged area. Ahead of us is a single female, speeding up and slowing down, depending on our proximity to her. Waiting for us is a single, lit trapeze. And then we are looking into the clear gaze of Kelsey Laura, who is defensively clutching a handful of keys. Over the 25 minutes of the show, Kelsey demonstrates skills in trapeze and physical theatre, while gradually unpacking a box of eggshells. A literal demonstration of discussions which need to be held.

Pictured: Kelsey Laura. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography

Pictured: Kelsey Laura. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography

The excellent soundtrack (sound design, Shelby Neufeld) incorporates extracts from interviews with a range of young people, playing back discussions about potential rapists, the issues of blame and responsibility, and the need for consent to be an ongoing process of checking and re-checking between partners. As one commented, “communication about sex is not seen as sexy,” but they all gave frank and insightful responses to some very direct questions about the subject (interviewees: Maddy, Catherine, Alex, Ali, Paige, Shantona, Shelby, Jen, Bree, and Ruthie). It was great to see how, as the performance and discussions unfolded, the performer moved from uncertainty (and a self-conscious ‘covering up’) towards a stronger and more positive exposition of an empty box and a throwing of the keys to one side.

A successful solo show requires the support of a network of work ‘behind the scenes.’ It’s great to see that Kelsey has drawn on excellent rigging, crew, marketing, sound, marketing and tech support (and Director Lara Croyon). I really like the idea of circus being used to provoke serious debate, and even to making change. Perhaps in a future iteration the show might be included in a longer program of material or incorporate different acts to reach a wider audience (as seen in the marvellous 2017 Hiraeth, also at Flipside Circus, Alderley, in which Kelsey performed).

Picture: Kelsey Laura. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Picture: Kelsey Laura. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Verdict: Serious issues raised for debate, in a new work which includes strong trapeze and physical theatre.    

Audience tip: Outside seating, so wrap up warm (or pick up one of the blankets on some of the seats). 15+ (adult themes). 25 minutes. 

Only four performances during Anywhere Festival 2018: Friday and Saturday nights (7pm), 18-26 May 2018. Tickets are available at the Anywhere Festival website. $15.

Catherine Lawrence

The reviewer attended the Friday 18th May (7pm) performance.

Pictures Credit: Geoff Lawrence, 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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