Women's Circus leaps ahead

November 6, 1991

Women's Circus leaps ahead

By Melanie Sjoberg

MELBOURNE — The big top, straw, hard seats, clowns, lion tamers? No, the Women's Circus is very different from the traditional circus. Up to 70 women leap, tumble, juggle, fly and more — creating a message about women asserting their strength and vitality.

Footscray Community Arts Centre has come behind another important project aimed at developing an alternative culture. The Women's Circus aims to reaffirm women's control over their bodies and to build self-esteem through physical and performance work.

Along with the fun and artistic merit, it aims to communicate feminist views in an entertaining and challenging manner. Theatre Director Donna Jackson told Green Left Weekly that this will enable a "mums and dads audience" to be introduced to some feminist politics in a non-threatening manner.

"A very important part of getting the show together has been research. We have been looking into institutions and why women have been put in institutions historically. We've looked mainly at prisons and asylums but also nunneries, schools and hospitals. We've looked at the way they operate and their function in society."

Each stage of the project has involved the women in a collective process of decision making. An essential part has been to give women a sense of owning the circus, including women outside of those involved in the workshops. A regular newsletter has been produced, and women have been encouraged to exchange their time working on necessary tasks for acknowledgement as sisters of the circus.

During October a mural group drew up and painted a design depicting the circus onto a 25-metre wall in the heart of Footscray Mall. This provided an opportunity to talk to the local community about the circus.

Performances run on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from November 7 to 23. Cost is $10/$5 conc. Bookings can be made on 687 3665.

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