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Small things are afoot beneath Circus Oz’s big top. Set inside a children’s model kit, the company’s new show, Model Citizens, features oversized props of everyday objects, with which a cast of plastic figurines attempts to build a new society.
Acrobat Steph Mouat makes her first appearance with the troupe as one of the figurines. For Steph, who recently completed her circus training in Toulouse, it’s a dream gig – the culmination of a career path that began when she surprised her friends with a trampoline backflip as a seven-year-old in rural Victoria.
“When I was a kid, I was always clambering over things,” Steph says. “I think my mum sent me to the gym just to get me out of the house.”
She trained as a gymnast but acrobatics soon caught her eye. At 15, Steph entered a program that allowed her to split her day between high school and circus school.
Now she’s part of the new intake at Circus Oz, as incoming artistic director Rob Tannion brings in fresh blood.
In Model Citizens, Circus Oz returns to what it does best: astounding feats of physical prowess, top-flight clowning, kicking live music and a healthy poke at the Australia of 2017. Steph says the new show celebrates diversity, with a storyline in which the model cast begins as identical figurines who then learn that difference is essential for a fully-functioning society.
“We always try to be politically relevant,” she says. “It’s sort of a Circus Oz trademark.”
Although the show has already toured Australia successfully, it’s about to be rebuilt for its Melbourne premiere. Moving out of the proscenium arch and into the big top has allowed for greater spectacle.
Asked what Melburnians can expect from the big top season, Steph doesn’t hesitate: “Great acrobatics, great politics and a super entertaining night out.”
BOOK A TICKET
- Model Citizens
- Birrarung Marr
- June 20-July 16