When the people can’t get to the show – the show must go to the people! That’s the ambitious philosophy of Australia’s most dynamic, daring and physical circus. Since its conception in 1978, Circus Oz has had a long tradition of touring, especially to some of the more remote communities around Australia.
For over five years Stage and Screen has been helping this all-human circus take their unique style of entertainment on the road, with both regional and international tours each year. The troupe is currently on the last leg of a regional tour giving audiences across Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland a chance to experience this fast-paced and unrelenting spectacle of talent.
Starting in March, the tour has involved performing at 13 venues, in 13 different towns over a 12 week period. The busy schedule has equated to 37 shows with 13 bump-ins, safety rehearsals, dress rehearsals and bump outs.
The tour is proudly showcasing the first Circus Oz show directed by new Artistic Director, Rob Tannion. Called Model Citizens, the quirky and thought provoking theme explores our natural human instinct to conform and integrate conflicts, with our equally strong impetus to rebel. While asking the question “what makes us, us?” the show boasts a sensational live soundtrack, brand new ensemble, a stunning set and mind blowing choreography.
Taking a troupe of such finely tuned performers on the road has its challenges, especially when looking for very specific accommodation for 11 performers (nine acrobats and two musicians), plus seven other support staff including a Rigger, Stage Manager, Lighting Operator, Sound Operator, Show Director, Production Manager and Company Manager.
Apartment style accommodation is essential as the performers each require their own bedrooms, space to stretch and wind down, kitchens to prepare healthy meals and baths are also highly desirable – to soothe stressed muscles!
While Stage and Screen began organising this tour in November last year, arrangements can change suddenly as the physical nature of the show means performers can be injured, requiring new members to join the troupe at short notice. However regional tours are a popular gig with all the performers, as the local audiences are very loud and so appreciative to see such a world-class act.
Then after each show the Circus Oz semitrailer rumbles out of town complete with all their gear including a giant pair of undies, 42 roadcases filled with props, musical instruments, costumes and mountains of makeup wipes!
Five minutes with CIRCUS OZ performer Luke Ha
After joining Circus Oz in January this year, Model Citizens is Luke’s first touring production.
What is your specialist skill?
I am a general acrobat and aerialist, and a specialist on Chinese pole and straps.
Why do you love performing?
It’s an opportunity to tell an authentic story through different mediums. As a job, it is challenging and enjoyable and pays bills.
What are the challenges of touring?
Finding a body rhythm when things are changing all around you – the venue, city, accommodation, time, weather - can be challenging. Also, being away from my wife and son.
How do you manage the demands of the travel?
I try to eat well, to rest when I can, and to make the most of rest time, either at the side of the stage or out of the theatre. A good phone data plan to be able to video call my family is also really important!
How do you stay fit and healthy?
I have a pretty comprehensive regime, including body conditioning, strength training, stretching, baths, massage and cupping therapy. I eat as healthily as I can, avoid cigarettes and alcohol, drink lots of water and try to sleep eight or more hours each night.