Left – Tim Coldwell (Circus Oz 1997). Photo – Ponch Hawkes
In 2018, Circus Oz, the iconic Melbourne-born arts company, will celebrate forty amazing years of ground breaking Australian contemporary circus.
Maintaining a strong commitment to creating circus that is accessible to everyone, the core values of Circus Oz – humanity, hilarity, community and diversity – remain unchanged as the pillars that underpin each and every project the company undertakes and the shows it presents.
As Circus Oz continues to develop, question and craft the way its infamous brand of circus is created, this anniversary year has a jam-packed program that includes national and international tours; devising and premiering multiple main stage works; exploring and nurturing the kernels of possible future shows with different collaborators; and connecting with even more independent circus artists and companies through the Sidesault program.
Circus Oz Artistic Director Rob Tannion, whose vision for the company is to create a robust and versatile portfolio of shows and projects, explains “2018 is significant milestone for Circus Oz. We’ve already kicked off with a huge Model Citizens four-week Sydney Festival season at Circus City in Parramatta and recently premiered a sell out season of NEON – the gloriously gaudy and glammed up ‘80s circus cabaret at the Karralyka Centre’s Ringwood Spiegeltent. And this was just in January. We have an exciting and diverse schedule of creative projects lined up for the rest of the year.”
The exact birth date for Circus Oz remains an enigma, tangled in history, memory and the mayhem of the late ‘70s.
Was it 16 January 1978, when the founding members purchased the canvas to make the first Circus Oz Big Top?
Or was it 9 February 1978, the date the company was incorporated?
Or was it 13 March 1978, when Circus Oz had their inaugural show in a tent in Alexandra Gardens during Moomba?
Or some people believe that the significant moment was at the Pram Factory in Carlton.
Circus Oz founding member, Tim Coldwell, explains “I believe we were born in the Pram Factory tower (where some artists may have been living or at least sleeping) after a long meeting with beer, whisky and some drugs (it was the ‘70s man!). We were a ratbag collective of circus artists from across the country who voted to amalgamate New Circus and Soapbox Circus and charge forward into a new future as Circus Oz.”
Circus Oz promotes the best of the Australian spirit and a fair go for all; actively champions accessibility and diversity; and choses to celebrate the potential of the human body to inspire and entertain audiences.
In their fortieth year, Circus Oz aims to share circus widely and empower participants and audiences across a huge schedule of programs and activities around Australia and worldwide.
Credited with revitalising a traditional artform in a uniquely Australian way, Circus Oz is a rock ‘n’ roll, all-human circus that has influenced the development of circus arts around the world since its foundation in 1978. Circus Oz undertook its first and critically praised international tour in 1980 and has continued touring to over 100 cities and regions in 28 countries – playing to over 4 million people.