[Australia] Carnival of the animals
“…a delightful and unique experience for children (and their grown ups)”
Created by circus visionary Yaron Lifschitz, Carnival of the Animals brings the joy of the animal kingdom to the stage in a sophisticated and visually stunning physical theatre extravaganza for children big and small.
Circa is world renowned for pushing artistic boundaries and creating powerful works of circus art that thrill, challenge and captivate as they constantly reimagine circus as an art form. Carnival of the Animals continues this, as a magical reinvention of the classic musical suite by French Romantic composer, Camille Saint-Saëns. Depicting creatures from land, sea and sky, Circa’s performers dressed in elaborate costumes take children and their adults on a sublime journey through the lives of the tortoise, the elephant, the kangaroo, the swan, and many other beasts of fur, feathers and fin. It’s an exuberant celebration of all Earth’s creatures, kindling delight at the power of our bodies to express who we really are.
Written in 1886, Carnival of the Animals has been adored by children and adults for many generations. It is a playful and magical work of music imbued with Victorian eccentricity whose fourteen movements each explore a specific or group of animals. For this production Australian composer Quincy Grant artfully reworked and extended the original suites, while on stage the Circa performers are accompanied by and interact with the sumptuously detailed animation created by UK-based Australian video designer Michaela French.
Since 2004, Circa has been at the frontier of new circus. Highly sought after across the globe for their innovative blend of movement, dance, theatre, music and acrobatics that boldly reimagines circus as an art form, they have performed at the world’s leading venues and festivals and garnered wave after wave of critical success, leading The Guardian (UK) to cite Circa as “the Australian circus company who may be well on their way to world domination.” Their majestic productions have been hailed as a “masterpiece of circus arts” (La Presse, Montreal), “astonishing physical mastery” (New York Times), and “a revolution in the spectacle of circus” (Les Echos, France). Carnival of the Animals is one of ten mesmeric productions that Circa tours in 2015, part of a program dedicated to exploring the breathtaking possibilities of circus art and new artistic territories.
From Brisbane, Australia comes a bold new vision of contemporary circus. A blending of bodies, light, sound and skills. A place where acrobatics and movement meld into a seamless whole. A celebration of the expressive possibilities of the human body at its extremes. Since 2006 Circa has toured to 33 countries across six continents. Circa’s work has been rapturously received by audiences, presenters and critics around the world. Critics have raved about Circa calling the work “stunning...exquisite... heart stopping” and “electrically charged”.
Circa’s current touring shows span diverse contexts from works for families in traditional arts centres to European contemporary arts festivals. Its works are highly innovative genre‐bending pieces that stretch the practice and perceptions of circus. Circa features a full time ensemble, a concentrated administrative team and a dedicated circus studio.
Circa also runs a Training Centre with an impressive workshop program in Brisbane at our professional studio, in schools and with partners throughout Queensland and beyond. On top of our term based and one‐off training activities, Circa has an impressive track record of producing quality workshops for children, young people and adults in a range of community contexts.
Cast & Crew
Yaron Lifschitz, Director
Artistic Director Yaron Lifschitz is a graduate of the University of New South Wales, University of Queensland and National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA) where he was the youngest director ever accepted into its prestigious graduate director’s course. Since graduating, Yaron has directed over 60 productions including large-scale events, opera, theatre, physical theatre and circus. His work has been seen in 33 countries, across six continents by over 500 000 people.
He was founding Artistic Director of the Australian Museum’s Theatre Unit, Head Tutor in Directing at Australian Theatre for Young People and has been a regular guest tutor in directing at NIDA since 1995. He is currently Artistic Director and CEO of Circa.
With Circa, Yaron has created works such as by the light of stars that are no longer..., CIRCA, Wunderkammer, How Like an Angel, “S” Beyond Opus and most recently Carnival of the Animals which world premiered in 2014. His recent works have been reviewed as being “stunning”, “exquisite” and “the standard to which all other circuses can aspire”.
Yaron lives in Brisbane with his son, Oscar. His passion is creating works of philosophical and poetic depth from the traditional languages of circus.
Libby McDonnell, Costume Designer
Libby McDonnell is a versatile artist working as a designer, performer and a choreographer throughout Australia and abroad. Libby is a Creative Associate with Circa, and Co Directed Ballet Theatre of Queensland's 2013 production Peter Pan. Libby is also a resident choreographer with Blue Roo Theatre Company, a company specializing in making performance with adults who experience disability. Libby specialises in costuming for contemporary physical performance. Previous costume design credits include CIRCA, How Like an Angel, On Air, Wunderkammer, Beyond, Carnival of the Animals and Opus. Additional production design credits include Propel, Launch Pad (EDC), Sugar Cane Ball (Blue Roo) and Boiling Point (Phluxus 2). She was costume designer for Gavin Webber and Regurgitator's Rockshow, and has assisted Claire Marshall in costuming selected productions. She is a graduate of the Queensland University of Technology (Associate Degree in Dance.)
The inspiration behind the video design
The initial ideas for Carnival of the Animals came out of a week-long development process with Yaron Lifschitz and Libby McDonnell in Berlin in Dec 2013. I flew back to London with an imagined world inside my head and spent the following six months finding ways to bring that world to life.
I wanted to re-create the feeling I had as a child when I’d read a book and there was the sense that it might just be possible to slip into that imagined world and discover that it was real. This idea, this possibility was how I imagined the world of the Carnival of the Animals, almost as though one slipped into an alternate reality where elephants can dance, frogs ride uni-cycles, gravity is defied, where the magic of the circus is the most important part of life and the entire world can be carried in a small suitcase.
The inspiration for the visual style of the animations in Carnival of the Animals came from a collection of images from 1960’s design magazines which used found materials to create cut-out collages. I wanted the animation to have a quality of moving through the pages of a children's book but it became much more than that. When the banners unfurl from their suitcases, the stage is set and an adventure begins. There is a whole world of wonder to discover and explore, with journeys from the bottom of the ocean to outer space and a parade of animals who entertain, terrify and delight audiences of all ages.
The animation imagines the world where the adventure happens and Circa's extraordinary performers bring that world to life.
Carnival of the Animals was an opportunity for me to live my dream of running away with the circus, and for a short while I existed in that crazy adventurous world where everything was possible and the magic of the circus became my reality.
Michaela French, Video Designer