Chills, chills, splashes, here comes the circus festival

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Magician Nicholas J Johnson presents his show “Tricky Nick: Magician and Idiot”.

WITH the thrills, thrills and spills of the circus gone for the past two years, there is good news as Canberra’s Warehouse Circus, founded by Sonia Young in 1990, prepares for a national circus festival.

Canberra Circus Company Artistic Director Tom Davis is brimming with excitement for the upcoming event, which opens later in April in a marquee in Kambah.

A self-proclaimed expert hat juggler who first went to Warehouse Circus as a child in 1997, staying there until 2008, when he headed to Melbourne at the National Institute of Circus Arts, Davis has then worked in Australia, notably with Solid State Circus and Circus Oz. until 2014, when he seriously injured his shoulder.

He reached out to the then manager at Warehouse to ask if they could have some lighter duties for him and instantly found himself managing their big show.

Happy to report that Davis’ frozen shoulder – a borderline injury that he says is not worth surgery – has been fully rehabilitated, “I can do handstands and a cartwheel again”, he said.

After an on-and-off relationship with the company, he becomes Artistic Director and Acting Executive Director in 2020. Three weeks later, covid hits.

How funny. They tried to put on shows and classes on zoom and with a lot of hard work, he thinks, “the ship is still afloat; we are still piloting it”.

“When we came out of lockdown, we wanted to connect with young circus performers in networks across Australia, so we thought hosting a circus festival was a really good idea,” says- he.

The idea was to bring back Warehouse Circus alumni such as Jane Schofield and Chris Singer to give masterclasses and, where possible, engage other circus performers as well.

“Bon Appetit”… a show that takes place in a restaurant full of circus skills related to cooking.

“We have a number of great people, like ‘Bon Appetit’, a show set in a restaurant full of cooking-related circus skills, recently seen in Adelaide.

A highlight for Davis will be magician Nicholas J Johnson on his show “Tricky Nick: Magician and Idiot.” A consultant to everyone from Circus Oz to prison drama ‘Wentworth’, he’s the author of a best-selling ‘Tricky Nick’, about why magic works and says, ‘I entertain, educate and transform my audience into walking bullshit-detectors”.

“We worked side by side in Melbourne,” says Davis, noting that magic and circus go hand in hand – “Circus shows you what you’re doing, but magic goes out of its way not to show how it is. fact. “

The festival, he says, is a new event bringing together young circus artists from across Australia to train and perform alongside elite circus artists, including many local stars such as Elena Kirschbaum, now program director at the hub and creative of the Adelaide Fringe Festival. producer at Highwire Entertainment.

Beyond the well-known out-of-town performances, there will also be a clown show, “The Ridiculous Show,” by local artist Pablo Latona, who was once general manager of Warehouse Circus.

The festival will take place at the Lions Youth Haven in Kambah, where they will set up marquees, including one large enough for the gala performances.

Part of the Youth Haven complex is the [email protected] Galilee school, which has lent its spaces and resources, so there will be catering and dormitories for the young circus performers and, separately, their mentors.

On Saturday, April 23, the festival will hold a free market day with arts, crafts and food stalls, chargeable circus masterclasses, free all-day performances and free workshops, including workshops for Canberrans living with a disability.

Of course, circus isn’t just practice, it’s showbiz, and to that end they’ll be hosting “The Great Big Circus Gala(h)” opening and closing shows on April 19 and 23, mixing guest artists with emerging talent. .

During the closing evening, the burlesque artist Jazida will have the last word with his famous show “Decadence and debauchery”. But it’s just for 18+.

Canberra Circus Festival, Lions Youth Haven, Kambah, 19-23 April. Details about canberracircusfestival.com.au

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