Taking an ‘Outrageous’ leap into the history of circus

Presented by the award-winning crew of Kinetica, Outrageous is a journey through the vibrant evolution of circus with an extravagant mix of traditional acts, contemporary acrobatics, and no-holds-barred entertainment. With death-defying aerials, eye-popping contortion, a flash of fire, and a dash of live music, Outrageous is showing at The Aurora Spiegeltent at The Pleasure Garden from Thursday, January 31 to Sunday, February 12 (get more info and tickets here). BRAYDEN EDWARDS spoke to Kinetica Director Sarah Ritchie to find out how the local troupe’s new production will celebrate the history of circus in a way that is uniquely their own.

Congrats on bringing Outrageous to Fringe 2023! What are you most excited about in bringing this show to the stage?

With a show called Outrageous we have the advantage of performing without boundaries, which is so great for our creative expression. Want to put four fire performers on stage at the same time? Why not! Want to fly two people to the top of the tent mid act? Sure! We are going for maximum wow factor so we are excited to bring off-the-wall antics, and outrageous characters to the stage along with our usual death-defying stunts.

With a show that delves into the evolution of the circus, what was something interesting you learnt while researching and writing the show? 

One thing that has stood out for me when looking at the history of circus is that this art is constantly changing. There is so much invention in circus, from the apparatus mechanics themselves, to the individual skills performers create. There is also the factor of the intended audience of a show, which affects the style, choreography and even costuming.

Circus artists are also known to be a little crazy, so they are not the type to be satisfied with what they have already accomplished – they want to work out how to make it bigger, more exciting…. more outrageous. And so the art of circus is continuously evolving – holding on to traditions while pushing boundaries.

What’s one thing that has changed about the circus over time, and one thing that has remained the same?

Circus has always been about the audience – engaging, connecting and captivating. From early traditions of shock and awe big top acts right up to contemporary storytelling circus, it’s about being entertaining, and I don’t think this aspect will ever change.

One thing that has changed is the accessibility of circus and its availability to a wider audience. You can still head out to a traditional big top for razzle dazzle, or you can go to a sexy late night cabaret, or even a huge theatrical production – the possibilities are endless and there’s something for everybody.

And how does this show compare to previous performances from Kinetica? 

Kinetica is known for creating shows with wildly different concepts and themes each year. From Syncope an ethereal contemporary show presented in St George’s Cathedral, to Caged a debaucherous 1920s cabaret that goes hilariously wrong, to Hold Close a visually stunning storyline show based on a graphic novel. This year with Outrageous we’ve taken it back to the roots of circus by paying homage to the magic, wonder and over-the-top style of traditional circus. Of course, being a Kinetica show you can’t expect anything truly traditional as we will be mixing it up, adding unexpected twists and making it a truly Outrageous experience!

What is unique about Kinetica and the shows they bring to our stages? With such a diverse line-up of talented people, is there something that defines what you’re all about? 

Audience members always comment on the camaraderie between the performers that’s clearly evident in our shows. This has been honed through years and in some cases decades of training and performing together. We’re not just a cast that’s been thrown together we’re friends who have always got each other’s backs literally and figuratively.

Kinetica is also known for boundary pushing in our shows. We love to give performers creative input and the more wild and out-there the ideas are the better. If the performer has talents in another art form we love to work these in so we can showcase their versatility whilst also making the show multi-faceted. This is how Kinetica started to delve into drag, dance, burlesque and performance art which we like to mix with our high-level aerial and acrobatic skills.

Even as someone who has been around such dazzling performers before, are there still moments that make your jaw drop? 

Absolutely. A lot of act development for our artists involves experimenting, adapting skills, and creating aerial choreography to suit what they want out of their performance. This means that there’s always something new and exciting, and Kinetica’s artists get a kick out of shocking me with a new head first drop, or a contortion pose that really shouldn’t be possible for a human being. I love my job.

A lot of us have dreamt of running away to the circus before. What’s some advice for anyone that thinks the circus life might be the life for them? 

I love this question, because I can quite honestly say, no matter who you are – do it!

One of the ways circus has evolved is that it is much more accessible to participate in – circus is no longer a travelling troupe in a pop-up tent that moves on as soon as the show is done. There’s still plenty of that, but there’s now location based troupes and circus schools everywhere.

Kinetica runs a circus school in Malaga and we have adult classes seven days a week – from absolute beginner all the way up to classes for those who want to make it a profession. Kids’ classes run four days a week with the same range. So whether you want to try out circus for fun and activity, or whether you’re keen to see if you could turn into a circus performer there are classes and teachers to help you give it a go.