by STEVE GRANT
FINDING themselves unexpectedly sharing their big top with some of Fremantle’s homeless community has had a surprisingly beautiful outcome for CircusWA.
The performers, somewhat homeless themselves since being forced out of Old Customs House in 2017, began to develop a relationship with their new housemates and it provided the impetus for one of their stars to dust off an idea for a show he’d been postponing for years.
“It’s impossible to lock a tent, and the circus’s comfortable crash mats under a huge canvas shelter were just too tempting, so we found ourselves sharing the big top with Freo’s homeless community,” Ross Vegas said.
“You have your own preconceived ideas and prejudices, but it was surprising how friendly we found the homeless people living in the park.”
Through them Vegas discovered the Starlight Hotel Choir, a singing group run by St Pat’s Support Centre, and it prompted him to rework an old idea into a new show, Ageless, which will debut later this month. The production will feature CircusWA’s youth troupe Sliders, and in another twist the Starlight Choir will sing alongside the Perth Discovery Choir, which mainly takes its performers from the affluent western suburbs.
“With an ageing population becoming increasingly isolated, with mental health and addiction rife in our community, now is the time to enact creative strategies to bring diverse people together through art,” Vegas said.
The show itself is mainly concerned about ageing, Vegas half-joking it’s a mid-life crisis piece for a circus performer who’s just shy of 50.
“Circus is such a youth-oriented industry; it’s a celebration of strength and colour and beauty,” he says.
“Choir, or choral singing, is something that attracts you if you are a bit older; it’s something you can do right up until the moment you stop breathing.”
Vegas says as a result, the show is a call to arms to make good use of youth: “To treasure that beauty and strength and youth, but to recognise the only thing that will outlast it is love.”