Being performers of their ilk, it makes sense Canberra’s Warehouse Circus could traverse the host of obstacles presented to them over the last 12-months while they’ve developed their new show Interrobang.
Premiering at Belconnen Arts Centre’s black box theatre at the end of the month, the 55-minute show will take audiences into the attic of Warehouse Circus history and their achievements over the past 30 years.
“The idea is it’s set in an attic, and these long-forgotten ideas and concepts that the tinkerer’s been playing with, some of them are old circus ideas and some of them are old costumes,” Interrobang co-director Idris Stanton told Canberra Weekly.
“It’s similar to Toy Story, these concepts have become sentient and interact with each other.”
An interrobang, ‽, is a combination question and exclamation mark; a mixture of awed bemusement and excitement, which sums up circus nicely.
A self-devised show from their 17-member performance troupe cast, Interrobang started development in January 2020. Then at the height of COVID restrictions the entire production moved to Zoom before the cast were able to recommence rehearsals in person come July.
Since then, it’s been a case of refinement and rehearsal while waiting for restrictions to ease to the point where performing for an audience was viable.
“To be able to work on a show for that long with no end date, because we didn’t have an end date until quite recently … These guys have just trooped through,” Stanton said.
Stanton and fellow co-director Ashley Cox have taken charge of the show here in Canberra since Warehouse’ artistic director Tom Davis has been in Melbourne during the pandemic.
Stanton said the 17-member cast of performers aged 10-22 are all highly talented and capable and will be even better for the experience of performing Interrobang.
“We’ve got a really wide range of skills and to a really high level … it’s rivalling some full-time touring circus ensembles and in multiple areas,” he said.
“We’ve got really high-level jugglers, acrobats, aerialists, everybody’s got a really good level of acrobatics.
“Then to perform in a theatre of that calibre before you’ve even left school is such a head start for these guys.”
Paying tribute to Warehouse Circus’ 30-year history, Stanton said Interrobang’s development involved going into the archives to revive routines and costumes of yesteryear.
“Because it’s our 30th anniversary we’re trying to pull ideas and inspiration from things that have happened,” he said.
“A lot of us didn’t know a lot of it, so it was a really good way to start conversations with previous performers and staff.
“We’ve got all of the old archives, lots of old footage and old photos … it’s been really fun going through the photos and going ‘oh, I know that guy, he’s with circus oz or he’s travelling the world now’.”
Plunging through the costume room was at once fun and inspiring, with the team digging up a wild array of outfits from a giant pie costume to medieval chain mail shirts.
“We had a bit of a free-for-all seeing what would fit and what people were inspired by and then going ‘oh that’s from this’ and just really connecting everybody with what’s come before and what’s possible,” Stanton said.
“You can forget what’s possible when you’re in the training room all the time, so it’s nice to go through the theatrical side of things.”
Interrobang by Warehouse Circus will be performed at Belconnen Arts Centre Theatre 30 January- 6 February; belcoarts.com.au