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Saturday, May 15, 2021

It’s a wonderful life

Step right up, step right up. The circus – in just about the least conventional sense of the word – is coming to town.

Spiegeltent will be occupying the Canberra Theatre Forecourt once again with everything weird and wonderful for three weeks from 30 March.

This time, it comes with a varied assortment of shows from a live performance of Osher Günsberg’s memoir Back, After the Break starring the man himself, award-winning jazz vocalist Emma Pask, the internationally acclaimed Indigenous dance performance Djuki Mala, right through to comedic legend Peter Helliar’s stand-up show, Big Boy Pants.

Spearheading the Spiegeltent lineup is their headline production Life: the Show, a magnificent conglomeration of a range of circus disciplines that has been taking audiences on an adventure of hedonistic theatrical anarchy to great fanfare since debuting in Brisbane in September 2018.

Life: the Show features a flamboyant, youthful cast stacked with performers, such as Rechelle Mansour and Hilton Dennis, who have expertise in a magnificent range of circus disciplines.

Canberra Weekly spoke with famed clowns Goos Meeuwsen and Helena Bittencourt, both of whom star in Life: the Show and have Cirque du Soleil pedigree.

Meeuwsen and Bittencourt come to Canberra having taken their dynamic clowning act that includes multi-disciplinary feats crossing into acrobatics and dance across the world to wide acclaim.

Bittencourt says Life’s mature themes are mostly explored through the physicality of the performance.

“There’s not a lot in the way of spoken word, it’s very physical,” she says.

“We go out there and push the audience into a line of feelings … It’s a very thoughtful experience, but at the same time the crowd has a lot of fun.

“When we created it that’s what we wanted. A crazy experience that also makes people think.”

Meeuwsen says the show has a very modern vibe to it, in part due to its flamboyant cast that includes Canberra Weekly cover stars Rechelle Mansour and Hilton Dennis, actor and musician Blaise Garza of the Violent Femmes, amongst others.

Actor and musician Blaise Garza of the Violent Femmes adds another dimension to Life: the Show at the Spiegeltent Canberra.

“The show is really like a big mix between everything. Physical comedy to music, dance, circus, and a lot of this is all mixed together at once. It’s really something quite difficult to define.

“There’s a very young cast, and the younger crowd loves it too. But there’s a mix of everyone … The intimacy of Spiegeltent is amazing, we’re very close to the audience.

“People see some pretty intense things but we find it’s a lot of the more senior members of the audience who are laughing and finding empathy within it all”.

With Meeuwsen hailing from Holland and Bittencourt from Brazil, they met on the road as travelling performers and now live a wonderful life together as a married couple who travel and perform as a double act.

“We’re very lucky we can do this together as a couple … We’re connected very strong.

“The fact we can travel the world together too, it’s a very beautiful thing,” Meeuwsen says.

“We can keep living our life, and do it together to make things more fun. We feel stronger because we have each other,” Bittencourt adds.

The Spiegeltent Canberra will be at the Canberra Theatre Forecourt from 30 March to 21 April. For program details, visit spiegeltentcanberra.com

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