Some shows seem like they take an eternity but that’s never the case with Circa. I have seen just about everything they have made in recent years and this globetrotting contemporary circus outfit based in Brisbane never overstays their welcome. Maybe it’s because the acrobats get tired?

Their latest show is having its world premiere at Brisbane Festival and it is called Eternity but it won’t take that long. It’s 70 minutes it will be intense and wonderful. It usually is.

Circa’s artistic director Yaron Lifschitz always comes up with something intriguing and that may be a result of him being a bit of a renaissance man. He knows circus, sure, that’s his job but he’s also steeped in theatre, music, literature and art and so often Circa’s shows are informed by this, never to the point of pretension or dullness however.

Mind you they like to have fun too and their showe Circa’s Peepshow (Club remix) which has recently played to packed houses at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is a good example.

I spoke to Yaron Lifschitz from Edinburgh. I was in Brisbane, he was in Scotland, he’s often elsewhere. But he was looking forward to coming home to put the finishing touches on Eternity which will be performed in Brisbane’s gorgeous St John’s Cathedral from September 13 to 16 as part of Brisbane Festival.

The sacred space and the music of groundbreaking Estonian composer Arvo part, recorded by Australian Chamber Orchestra for the show, will make an intriguing combo.

In Eternity, Circa’s talented acrobats (who are also really dancers and performance artists) will explore powerful emotions and delve into profound themes such as love, death, loss, hope and wonder. Through their breathtaking acrobatics and awe-inspiring feats, they hope to express the human experience in a way that will touch the heart.

Lifschitz says the cathedral is the perfect place to have a conversation about all this.

“Having 400 people in the same space having a beautiful transformative experience will be special,” he says. “It’s a magnificent space and the acrobats respond really well to new spaces. They enjoy performing in different kinds of environments.

“It won’t be just a gig in a cathedral though. We will try very hard to make it a performance with gravitas and nuance. It’s great to be doing this as part of Brisbane Festival, its exactly the kind of encounter we want to have in a festival.”

Brisbane Festival artistic director Louise Bezzina says she is thrilled to have this internationally renowned company, which often performs more beyond Brisbane than at home, performing at the festival.

“It is wonderful to have Circa back in the Brisbane Festival program with this world premiere production of Eternity,” she says. “The stunning surrounds and architecture of St John’s Cathedral will be accentuated through the exquisite physicality and music.”

Luifschitz says Eternity will “not be religious in a denominational sense” but will display an “awareness of the spiritual”.

“There will be beauty and wonder and a taste of the sublime,” he says, “I’ve been looking at doing something in St John’s Cathedral for years,” he says. “In 2012 we did a project in cathedrals around London at the time of the Olympics and it was very successful. It was called How Like an Angel which is a line from Hamlet”.

St John’s Cathedral is the cathedral of the Anglican diocese of Brisbane and is dedicated to St John the Evangelist. Situated on Ann Street in Brisbane’s CBD it is the only stone-vaulted church in the southern hemisphere and is regarded internationally as a sublime example of neo-gothic architecture.

So, it stacks up against the cathedrals Circa performed at in London and Yaron Lifschitz says it is “magnificent”.

“And I’m very interested in public spaces that are built for private experiences,” he says.
He’s not a church-goer himself being Jewish but he was brought up steeped in a religious tradition so is familiar with some scripture and has a working knowldeg of theology and philosophy. Add his love of poetry and music and you understand how he creates the work he does.

All religious traditions grapple with the idea of Eternity and it’s something Lifschitz has been mulling over for some time. How exactly this will express itself he can’t completely say because when we chat, he is still to put the finishing touches on the show.

“It’s parboiled,” he says. “We have the basic structures in place but there will be surprises and twists.”

He doesn’t want to overexplain it. Because like religious and spiritual encounters a Circa show is something to be experienced.

Eternity, St John’s Cathedral, Brisbane, September 13-16, tickets $54 – 59.

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