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Bianco

Bianco

NoFit State Circus’s Bianco runs as part of the Perth International Arts Festival at Ozone Reserve until Saturday, March 1. Head  here for tickets and session times.

What do you do when you’ve pushed the envelope about as far as it will stretch in terms of what human performers can do in the circus ring? Start changing up what you can do with the audience itself, apparently. At least, that’s what NoFit State Circus has done with their latest show, Bianco. While performers swing, contort and rappel their way around an ever-changing scaffolding stage, the audience is corralled and moved around, under and within the performance space, their perspective on the show constantly changed and challenged.

“It’s a fresh look at circus,” Creative director Tom Rack explains. “A kind of very different way to present the work, but that’s great – that’s what we do. People really seem to enjoy it. By moving around, you’re engaging in a very different way.”

This interactive performance style has taken almost three decades to perfect, as NoFit State worked to carve out their own unique niche within the increasingly popular world of contemporary circus “The company’s been going for, oh, 28 years now and we started from quite humble beginnings as a group of street performers. It was pretty much the same time as Circus Oz and Cirque Du Soleil started – we all started around the same time and all went off in different directions. The style of work developed as a collaboration between us and the artistic director of this project, who we’ve worked with on a number of shows over the years.”

Rack tells us that the chief aim was always to try and forge a stronger connection  between the troupe and the crowd than would perhaps normally exist during a performance.  “For us, it’s a way of trying to engage with the audience differently, to try and have a different relationship with the audience. Circus doesn’t normally touch people emotionally and I think our work does do that – it draws them in and they fall in love with the world. For the two hours they’re with us they do run away with the circus. They leave the tent with a sparkle in their eye or sometimes a tear in their eye, having been genuinely moved by a piece of circus – and that’s not something that generally happens.”

Judging from the way that Perth audiences have reacted to the shows so far, though, it’s something that NoFit State can make happen every night. “I think the younger members of the audience get off on the excitement and the danger and the thrills and the spills and the energy of the circus,” Rack says. “And the more sophisticated people can perhaps look for the literary references and perhaps try and weave together the covert narrative. It’s not a narrative piece overall, but there are many interwoven narratives and many images that say something. It’s one of those artforms that transcends all age groups and demographics – it can say many things on many levels.”

 

TRAVIS JOHNSON

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