News & Reviews

The Melba Spiegeltent - Leader; Circus Oz boutique production ‘within spitting distance’ of audience

9th December 2014

SEE stretched sinews, iron grips and maybe even catch a fleck of sweat when you’re Close to the Bone with Circus Oz.

In a very rare and intimate “boutique” show — which has been done only three times since 2004 and sold out each time — the acclaimed Melbourne troupe pares back to 10 performers in the 100-year-old Melba Spiegeltent on their new Collingwood premises.

“We are so close to the audience that we know that when you stand on that stage and throw your leg out, you’re within spitting distance of hitting someone in the nose,” said Circus Oz associate director Debra Batton.

“We have no intention of hurting anyone, but what that allows us to do is really play with the audience in terms of the sense of danger which is inherently part of circus.”

With original music performed live by the acrobats in true Circus Oz style, Close to the Bone is a collaboration between Batton and Simon Yates and Jo Lancaster who founded the company, Acrobat, in the mid 1990s.

“To me they are circus gold in Australia,” Batton said.

“Acrobat reinvented circus in the ‘90s, the same way Circus Oz reinvented circus in the ‘70s”.

While Circus Oz approaches circus as entertainment first and foremost, Acrobat approaches circus more as performance art, she said. “Once you start stripping away you kind of see the absolute beauty in the image being portrayed at its most refined level.”

Batton performed with Circus Oz from 1993-95, was a performer and artistic director of Legs on the Wall from 1996-2009, then rejoined Circus Oz last year.

“Certainly one of the gifts for me, I’ve come to Circus Oz in the first year in the new building.

“When I was first in the company ... in rehearsal we couldn’t work at the height we worked in the tent, the rehearsal building didn’t allow us to go to height. Also the building was much much older and dirtier, all of those things. And here we are in purpose-built space, it’s just a delight to be in. I still have to pinch myself and go, ‘Wow, is this what we’re doing?’”


Leader Community Newspapers
Annika Priest

Photographer: Rob Blackburn

The Melba Spiegeltent - Leader;  Circus Oz boutique production ‘within spitting distance’ of audience -