Vulcana Women’s Circus are set to present two shows in partnership with Brisbane Powerhouse, Monsteria and The Modern Guide to Heroism and Sidekickery.
Monsteria revolves around the ideas of identity and feminine bodies, using circus to portray extreme strength, flexibility and contortion. According to Celia White, artistic director, “when the body can be twisted in unexpected ways, or turn upside down or seemingly inside out it gives us a palate of movement that can express startling, surprising, strange or ridiculous images that are fun to play with and hopefully engaging for audiences to try and untangle.”
Wanting to be in control of how bodies are being watched and to challenge the watcher by changing expectations. “Circus often sexualises or eroticises the performing women’s body and Monsteria is aiming to confound that while also owning and celebrating whatever sexuality is expressed,” Celia said.
While The Modern Guide to Heroism and Sidekickery deals with the common tropes and stereotypes that are prevalent in today’s representations of super heroes. Creator and performer, Michelle Zahner wants to ask the real questions that never seem to get answered.
Vulcana Women’s Circus are determined to empower individuals and to use the traditions of inclusiveness, strength, excitement and daring. Working with a wide range of creative people, Vulcana also focuses specifically on creating spaces for women, deaf and disabled people, LGBTIQ communities and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities.
Director of Vulcana, Celia White came to performance through a street theatre company in Western Australia called Desperate Measures, but found that circus was a really exciting way of engaging audiences and creating a wow factor.
“It’s also about the potential to become an artist. For people to be able to use what they have learnt to create either fun or entertaining circus theatre performances.”
“It’s fantastic seeing strong women on stage,it’s inspiring and I think it challenges the way people think, that women are not just there to be sexualised objects. Sometimes circus can be used in that way, look at that woman, she’s so bendy and flexible and she’s got a beautiful body.”
“While we’re more interested in the circus where there are real bodies that are strong and healthy, they may be big, they may be small. But it doesn’t matter, they are strong and they have something to say,” Celia said.
According to Celia, theatre is a fantastic way to challenge stereotypes of women. “Because the voice or body of the woman performer has primacy in the theatre, all focus is on the performer and her “word” is left to resonate. It is a perfect vehicle for women to articulate their reality and present images of women alternative to those in popular culture where women’s voice are still struggling to be heard clearly.”
“It is changing but there is still a strong resistance to diversity of representation for people who identify as women without potential condemnation and unasked for sexualisation. How a woman represents herself should be her decision but the rules are still far too proscriptive,” Celia said.
Vulcana also offers classes all year round for women to come and learn new skills, we also offer mentorships, incubators and residencies. “Supporting women to have confidence in themselves to apply for funding, giving them skills to speak the language of funding processes and supporting them with administrative resources are other strategies for supporting women circus artists,” Celia said.
With big plans for 2018, Vulcana will also present works at other Brisbane Powerhouse Festivals, MELT and Wonderland again, a cabaret in July, as well as producing a new work, As If No-one Is Watching, a powerful exchange between emerging circus performers and mature aged dancers from WaW Dance.