Ever wondered what it would be like to be a circus performer? It isn’t all laughs and clowning around. ‘Born in Sawdust’, the new show at the National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA), will captivate you with stories of love, loss, and inspiration — the journey of a circus performer.
The production is performed by NICA’s 2015 graduating class and follows the story of a young girl born into a circus family. Initially rebelling against her circus heritage, she eventually learns to embrace and even love her background, growing up to be a well-renowned clown. ‘Born in Sawdust’ is a Russian phrase to describe someone born into the circus.
The show incorporates jaw-dropping aerial acts (imaging doing a handstand on top of 12 milk crates!), impressive acting, floor acrobatics, and a good mix of humour. The ‘fat clown’ – a character played by one of the students (who has debuted at several NICA shows) – is a crowd favourite. She waddles into the crowd chowing down on popcorn and trying to feed audience members.
There are some seriously cool special effect lighting features in this show. Lights are projected onto white backdrops as gymnasts flip, cartwheel, and handspring across stage, creating mirrored shadows behind them. Other parts of the show incorporate pre-recorded shadows onto the screen; some serious, representing thoughts or fears of the performers; others not-so-serious, poking fun at the performers. The shadows add a third dimension to the performance that is captivating and surreal.
It’s clear to see that a lot of planning and effort has gone into this production. While many circus shows are heavy on acts and impressive stunts, yet lack any kind of a story, this one focuses on a well planned out, meaningful storyline.
You don’t need to wait for Cirque Du Soleil to see great circus! NICA presents top performers and entertaining circus at a great value.
Ember is an American turned Aussie. Her love affair with Melbourne goes back three years, and she still can’t get enough of this city! Discovering new hideouts and hidden gems around Melbourne is her hobby. Marketing Strategist by day, spontaneous adventurer, brekky enthusiast and aerial acrobat by night.