Rock N Roll Circus: Pioneers of the Brisbane Contemporary Circus Sector - CircusTalk

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Rock N Roll Circus: Pioneers of the Brisbane Contemporary Circus Sector

With its roots embedded in the thriving bohemian and nomadic local arts scene, the origins of Brisbane’s (Queensland, Australia) contemporary circus sector dates as far back as the early 1980’s. The company that led the Brisbane sector to where it is today, Rock n Roll Circus, evolved from a series of street theatre and community theatre projects led by local collectives, The Popular Theatre Troupe and Street Arts Theatre. In order to understand the trajectory of the local circus sector at the time and Rock n Roll Circus’s trajectory, it is important to note that the Bjelke-Peterson government that held office from 1968-87 in Queensland was an extremely conservative, anti-socialist and Christian style of leadership. The impact this had on the city’s arts and culture and social structure created a need and a reaction from the arts sector and community which influenced a social ideology of radical reaction and political activism. Fortunately, although the State Government was incredibly restrictive for Brisbane artists, the Federal Government was the antithesis. In Challenging the Centre- Two decades of Political Theatre, Steve Capelin describes the philosophy and politics of the Popular Theatre troupe and the opportunities that they had under the Federal Whitlam Government and which in essence was the catalyst for a local circus sector emerging:
“The philosophy of the Popular Theatre Troupe set it apart from most other theatre groups at that time, in that there was a definite political motivation involved in mounting each of its productions. Because of the cultural vision of the Australia Council’s funding policies in the wake of the Whitlam expansion, we were enabled to say what we thought should be said about social and political issues which we considered important. We didn’t have to make box office the choice-determining concern that it was amongst bourgeois theatre companies. Context ruled.” (Capelin, 1995, p.46) ...
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Kristy Seymour

Dr Kristy Seymour is a circus artist and emerging scholar with over 19 years’ experience in the Australian circus sector as a performer, trainer, artistic director and administrator and more recently, as a researcher. She has worked extensively in the youth circus sector leading a team of inspiring artists as the Head Trainer and Artistic Director of Flipside Circus in Brisbane 2004-2010. Working as a creative producer and choreographer, she has collaborated with leading arts organizations, venues and festivals such as with Strut n Fret Production House, Brisbane Powerhouse, Creative Generations, Woodford Folk Festival, Brisbane Festival and Adelaide Fringe Festival and Festival 2018 (Commonwealth Games 2018).
In 2012 Kristy completed her Honours thesis “How Circus training can enhance the well-being of children with autism and their families”. She then went on to open her circus school, Circus Stars, solely dedicated to children with autism in 2013, the topic of her recent TEDx talk (June 2017). Kristy completed her doctoral research in 2018 titled “Bodies, Temporality and Spatiality in Australian Contemporary Circus” and is currently an Adjunct Researcher at the Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research at Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia.