Introducing the new ladies of Circus Oz
Circus Oz is coming to town again, with their new show But Wait… There’s More! Tim Hunter asks a few questions of three new circus family members, April Dawson, Candy Bowers and Sarah Platts.
Circus Oz, that ever-evolving and cheeky troupe that’s more than a little bent, is coming to town with their new show But Wait… There’s More! And there certainly is more, including three new members, April Dawson, Candy Bowers and Sarah Platt. We asked all three Circus Oz newbies the same questions, to find out what makes their circus motors tick.
MCV: What is it about circus performing that speaks to you?
April Dawson: I love the thrill of it. Flying through the air to be caught by someone else is an incredible feeling. The joy it brings to me and to the audience is just a blessing to be involved in.
Candy Bowers: The physical element is what’s drawn me to the circus. It’s an extraordinary challenge working with such a different art form and it’s so new that it’s super-exciting.
Sarah Platt: The main attraction for me is the constant variety. Circus shows constantly change and you have to be able to deal with those changes at the drop of a hat.
How did you first become involved with circus folk?
AD: I had my first introduction to circus at 15 when I was spotted performing at a local festival in Busselton, Western Australia by the owner of Lunar Circus. I joined the troupe a week later and toured across Australia and Asia, performing in the big top while completing high school on the road.
CB: The first time I performed with circus performers, trapeze artists and tumblers, was in Feasting on Flesh at the Opera House in 2006. I’m a unique performer and I think my experience as a host, comic and rapper caught the director’s attention.
SP: I was taught to juggle at a young age at a community workshop and much to my mum’s despair I used to practise with apples and oranges straight out of the fruit bowl. I then studied circus skills as part of my post-graduate in physical theatre and it reignited my interest. I’ve worked in many performance art forms, but circus just kept pulling me back.
And how did you end up getting a gig with Circus Oz?
AD: I was involved in Circus Oz’s latest audition call for the 2014 cast. That involved going to three separate auditions, each one focusing on different skills and performance tasks. I was lucky to have the right mix of skills to fit within the new show.
[Image] April Dawson loves the thrill of circus performing. Photo: Rob Blackburn
CB: The company called for expressions of interest, and I thought, ‘why not?’ The audition was extreme. It was a day long affair… I was quite in awe of the acrobats and diverse circus artists. After the group stuff I had a one-on-five with the key artistic team. Only the Playschool audition was more involved!
SP: Last year I worked for Circus Oz in the tent crew in Melbourne. I saw the show every day, but while everyone else was admiring the fabulous circus skills, I was busy watching the stage manager run around, lugging mats, setting props and keeping the show together. I said to my partner, “One day, I want that job.” They employed me again in January to help them move to their new home in Collingwood. Then I found out that the stage manager position was becoming vacant and just knew I had to apply.
WATCH: Behind the scenes with Circus Oz
What’s it like being part of their mob, and is it easier for women in circuses now?
AD: Gender equality is one of the founding principles of Circus Oz. The current cast is made up of six men and six women, of which each of us have different skills and talents. Being a female in this cast is an amazing experience. I’m surrounded by strong women who inspire me every day.
CB: I don’t know because I’m new to the form. What I do know is that women’s bodies are strong and can do incredible things. The culture regarding men and women working together – contrasting, supporting, catching and complementing each other is true physical equality in action.
SP: It’s one of the integral parts of the Circus Oz philosophy, and has been from day one. I knew from the first day I worked with Circus Oz that one day I would love to be a permanent member of the mob.
What do you think is the mutual attraction between the circus and queer folk?
AD: Circus is a place where all are welcome and accepted. It’s a community and family where difference is celebrated and embraced.
CB: I think physical strength and death-defying acts are what attracts queer folks to the circus. Also the HOTNESS! Abs and guns, right! Strong women, strong men, lithe women, lithe men all getting tangled and up in each other’s stuff…
SP: As a member of both those communities I can see why there is a mutual love and respect. There are a lot of similarities between both communities. People’s differences are celebrated, and diversity is a strength. Both communities have suffered from stigma over the years. As a young gay person I found the circus world was very accepting and the support I felt in the early stages of my coming out process made me feel like I could be myself without any concern.
[Main image] Circus Oz' Candy Bowers. Photo: Rob Blackburn
Circus Oz – But Wait… There’s More! will be playing under the Heated Big Top in Birrarung Marr June 18 – July 13 before embarking on a national tour. Visit www.circusoz.com