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Yaron reflects on 2015

In an industrial town in France there lives a rabbit whose name is ‘Circa’. This is reality but it is also a fairy tale and that is very much the sort of year we have had here at Circa.

2015 was a year of big dreams and new frontiers. We set out to challenge ourselves. The year started with new performances created for the Powerhouse Museum’s Circus Factory exhibition. Silk dresses billowed and audiences gasped as we worked with the luminous Paul Dyer and his stunning Australian Brandenburg Orchestra on their French Baroque program. What Will Have Been brought extreme abstract acrobatics and live violin playing together over an intense hour of art, improbably staged in a Spiegeltent. We delved into the world of baroque opera by staging a deconstructed version of Monteverdi’s Il RItorno d’Ulisse in Patria. And we created Close Up for an upside-down purple cow in Edinburgh.

We continued to tour our 11 in repertoire shows to familiar and to new places – firsts included Uruguay, Turkey and Mexico. We once again had the chance to scale the demanding heights of a season at the Chameleon in Berlin – 7 shows a week for 6 months of intense performances. Among the many touring highlights were our returns to Lyon, La Tohu (twice) and our premiere at BAM. Our business unit arTour produced exceptional regional touring outcomes across Queensland. The Circa Training Centre kept children and adults participating in the wonderful world of circus. Our outreach programs including a major ongoing partnership in Bundaberg connected communities, shared skills and spread delight.

And then we embarked on some completely new adventures. 88 local performers in Montbelliard in France participated in Before Your Eyes – a creation for the opening of MA Scene National staged around, throughout and backstage of their venue. A local Circa team was embedded in the community for a month to develop this creation. Carnival of the Animals was restaged with a new extended version and featured 8 young children from Montreal on stage each day. And we were awarded the opportunity to be the Creative Lead of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games arts and cultural program.

Circa is an improbable dream. We are a small company with a big heart and an appetite for boldness. Our company values are quality, audacity and humanity and they are enacted each day by an amazing group of artists, delivery and administration teams who work beyond capacity to make the impossible happen. Our world is complex – funding landscapes change, injuries happen, baggage goes walkabout. And yet our people are up to the challenge – it is a privilege to watch a group shape shift around a problem, restaging a work moments before opening or meeting a demanding application deadline.

It is thrilling to see a sardine can of an office in full throttle as our administration and delivery teams keep the wheels turning. Our modestly sized studio can have up to 4 shows simultaneously in rehearsals – sometimes the only way to direct is to stand in the middle and choose your own adventure. It isn’t for the faint of heart.

A year like this isn’t possible without support and as always the Circa Board provided the robust governance, leadership and encouragement needed to navigate it. Arts Queensland and the Australia Council provided essential core funding. Phillip Bacon’s ongoing support was welcomed as were the generous donors in our 40k in 40 Days Campaign – for the first time in our history we met our annual fundraising target. Our co-producers allowed our new creations to make it to the stage – deepest thanks to you all. Our audiences and participants are the reason we exist and each one of you is a necessary and welcome part of Circa.

2015 saw new staff and some departures. It isn’t possible to list everyone but a few special mentions – Sam Strong leading our board, Penny Miles and Alice Lee Holland providing fuel at management level and Lauren Herley, Nicky Faubert, Conor Neall and Lisa Eckert travelling across the world to join our intrepid band. On the going side of the lever our longest serving acrobat Lewie West finished his time at Circa – having filled stages around the world with his particular brilliance. A special thanks to the many acrobats who dropped everything to step into roles at the last minute, often stepping off a long haul flight having ruined a holiday just to help. On a personal note I enjoy working with the finest executive group in the business – Charlie Cush, Kate Fell and Danielle Kellie are unflappable and unstoppable and make this whole thing possible. Our ensemble of artists is the heart and soul of what we do and each day they amaze.

In the week before Christmas we have seasons in Berlin, Edinburgh and Montreal. Another group is resting its muscles ready to open at Sydney Festival in January. And in France the rabbit called Circa (who starred in the opening scene of Before Your Eyes) sleeps soundly at night, knowing it is real, even if it all sounds like a dream.

Yaron Lifschitz, Artistic Director

Circa is based in Meanjin (Brisbane) on the lands of the Jagera and Turrbal people. We respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the many lands on which we create and perform. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.
Always was. Always will be.