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Yaron Lifschitz, artistic director of Brisbane’s CIRCA, has built seven-strong, tight-knit circus troupes like no other – conquering danger, forging families and establishing contemporary circus. In 2017, Lifschitz returns to Canberra with his post-industrial LANDSCAPE WITH MONSTERS.
Landscape is a world of tall metal structures, wooden boxes and a hard floor where audiences experience the connections between ourselves and a built landscape in decay. Intense hand-to-hand acrobatics collide with hard objects to expose all that is dark, humorous, brutal and beautiful.
Performer Tim Fyffe has already travelled throughout Australia and Europe with CIRCA after he and his partner accepted an offer to join in 2016 when graduating from the National Circus School of Montreal. Originally from Melbourne, Fyffe now lives in Brisbane, working for CIRCA full-time, and while we talk he sits on scaffolding working on his house surrounded by three dogs playing.
Fyffe’s parents enrolled him in circus classes from a young age and his Dad would cycle home from work picking up hooks and other objects off the road for Tim to build all kinds of apparatuses. His endless energy and curiosity kept bringing him back to circus. Now, he specialises in hand-to-hand acrobatics and he’ll be the one we see climbing a five-metre trestle with no hands solo when Landscape comes the Canberra Theatre Playhouse stage in September.
In Fyffe’s opinion, CIRCA is unique in its inception and creation of work. “They have a very involved process of creation with the artists,” he says. “Our opinion and input is valued. With Landscape we were told to improvise around sharp edges, we discussed it and jumped into it. All the artist’s ideas get thrown into the space. We go away to create on our own without the director, then he’ll return to work with us. It’s less choreographed and more organic in process.”
While Fyffe was not there at its inception, his troupe have remodelled Landscape, complementing the strengths of the current performers. Over time CIRCA’s small troupes become in sync and improvisation leads to a strong repertoire together. While cues remain and there is choreography, Landscape is a growing organism with the artists always alert and open to what can happen. Fyffe says, “I know my cue. But every night I choose my entrance to the stage. Every audience is a unique transaction. They deserve the best show that you can give.”
Landscape with Monsters is one of CIRCA’s most dangerous works Fyffe tells me. “It’s very challenging. I do mental prep side of stage. Near misses happen and we always need to connect as a group. While we’re performing the danger, it’s real for us.
“Landscape pushes the boundaries with risk. There are lots of sharp hard edges. The projections and soundscape are heavy. Audiences can expect to feel the bold danger. It is delicate at the same time as powerful. Slow and dark at the beginning, but there are lighter moments and it can be quite comical,” he concludes.
Landscape with Monsters is full of the thrills that are hallmarks of CIRCA – an Australian company stretching the practice and perceptions of circus, creating work that keeps audiences and critics enthralled.
CIRCA brings LANDSCAPE WITH MONSTERS to The Playhouse, Wednesday-Saturday September 6-9. Tickets from $45 + bf through canberratheatrecentre.com.