Australia’s leading national youth circus, the Flying Fruit Fly Circus, will take to the stage this Easter school holidays with their multi-award-winning show, JUNK. From spectacular acrobatics to magical shadow puppetry, incredible circus skills and more, watch this talented company of performers transform a 1940s junkyard into a playground of pure imagination!
We caught up with the show’s artistic director, Jodie Farrugia, to find out more about what happens when kids do circus…
TLH: what attracted you to this project?
Jodie Farrugia: I created and directed JUNK whilst I was the Co-CEO and Artistic Director of The Flying Fruit Fly Circus between 2013-2018. I finished up in this role in April 2018 and have returned to the company to direct and create the production again for 2019. I wanted to create a large scale circus production for the company as I felt the company was ready for this. During my time as the Artistic Director of the company I felt I could take my time to really create something different and to explore content that could be developed in collaboration with the young artists and professional team. JUNK was in development for 2 years with the company, this was only possible because it was part of my artistic vision for the company at the time.
As a mum of 2 children I also felt I wanted to comment on the idea of how children are overprotected now, I feel children are no longer encouraged to use their imagination, to be frugal and find joy in the simple things.
TLH: what does dance (and dancing) mean to you?
JF: Dance means so much to me, when I say the word “dance,” I do not mean dance training or technique, but dance as a vehicle of communication, a kind of universal language. I am only interested in authentic dance as a universal accessible language that can be used to express oneself, and convey information and stories. I am not interested in dance in a commercial or elitist form,. I am inspired by our Australian indigenous dance; it is powerful, beautiful and so real. It is a form of living history that brings people together, celebrating culture and stories.
TLH: what do you find is the main difference in directing kids versus adults? Do you enjoy one more than the other?
JF: I have enjoyed working with young people and adults in my life. I don’t prefer working with one over the other, I just like working with people in a collaborative and transparent way. When working with young people I create a more holistic creative process, ensuring their well-being and physical and emotional safety is always a priority. Often-young people are still working out how to advocate for themselves. When working with young people there is a different type of accountability I have with myself as a director. I try to teach young artists how to assess their own safety and emotional limits and encourage them to communicate these boundaries, so they feel in control and cared for.
TLH: what can you tell us about directing a circus production?
JF: Directing a circus production requires such open collaboration with all members of the team, because people’s safety depends on it. I am very selective about the professional teams I work with; they need to be open, free of ego, clear and positive artists. From the sound designer and the rigger, to the set designer, circus trainers, lighting designer, costume designer and stage manager, we all need to work together, listen to each other’s needs and vision whilst ensuring safety is our priority. We need to value physical and emotional safety over any creative idea we may have, we also need to value each other as collaborators, supporting and hearing each other’s ideas without judgement.
TLH: how would you describe the Junk experience?
JF: Junk is a wonderful world, it is creatively liberating. I was inspired by a quote “To invent, all you need is a good imagination and a pile of junk.” (Thomas Edison) The young people in the show are liberated by their imagination; objects of junk can be transformed into puppets, places, ideas, musical instruments and landscapes. The circus skills are wonderful to work with, these young people train really hard as they understand the opportunity given to them in being part of the training program at The Flying Fruit Fly Circus. They are experiencing childhood from a very privileged and unusual perspective. JUNK is a combination of this privilege and creative liberation all rolled into one.
TLH: in an age where the way children play has been so dramatically altered by the development of technology, what is the message you’re hoping kids in particular will take away from this?
JF: That there is fun to be had with what’s right in front of you, that childhood is a wondrous wonderful time to be enjoyed, you don’t need to contribute to an unsustainable way of living that doesn’t place value on recycling and reusing things. That our elders in our community have stories that can be valued, that as a young person you too can be trusted and create magic with one another if you are kind and work hard.
TLH: what advice would you give to young aspiring performers hoping to one day star in a production like Junk?
JF: You need to be prepared to work hard, to collaborate openly with other people, to be trustworthy and to trust others around you. You need to be able to reflect on your self and always try to be the best version of yourself. Kindness, empathy and determination are essential attributes to a production like JUNK.
JUNK opens on Wednesday 17 April at Riverside Theatres in Parramatta. Book now!
What you need to know:
When: 6.30pm on 17th and 18th April, and 11am on 18th April
Tickets: Adult $39, Concession $34, Child $23, Family of 4 $96 Discounts available for Riverside Theatres’ Members. Transaction fees: phone $4.60, web $3.60 and counter $2.60.
Where: Riverside Theatres - corner of Church and Market St, Parramatta
Tickets: Book online or call the Box Office on (02) 8839 3399
Recommended Ages: 6+