Entertainment Hive 2017

Moody adult circus full of curiosities

By Honey B

Sexy, funny and explosive, Wunderkammer is a heady cocktail of circus, cabaret and vaudeville. One of the newest members of Circa's Wunderkammer is the super talented Daniel O'Brien who is enjoying the spontaneity of performing in the renowned troupe. The young Queenslander recently graduated from the National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA) and he says he's enjoying the "thrill'' of performing live. Wunderkammer has been described as a "white-hot spectacle in which a diva melts into a rope, balloons and bubble wrap discover their artistic souls, while six bodies twist and fly, transforming the very fabric of reality.''. Have you toured very much with this show as it has been received to great acclaim overseas? "We are now just coming into a tour of Wunderkammer and I am fairly new to this show in particular, so it will be good to have a few shows under my belt. "There will be six people in this version of the show that is coming to Adelaide and the performances evolve as they go along.'' What is it like being with Circa and the work does evolve? "As a performer it's really fulfilling and in Wunderkammer there are a couple of scenes that are very improvisational. Each night we can keep it fresh and decide where we are going to go with it and adjust accordingly and see how the audience reacts and from doing that the show just keeps getting better and better and it keeps it fresh and interesting for all of us.'' Tell me about your role in the show? "I am a hand balancer and I balance on one hand a lot and do lots of handstands. In Wunderkammer  I have a duo handstand act that I get to perform as well as spots of handstands throughout the show. We also do group acrobatics throughout the show which is what Circa is all about.'' Circa's shows are always fantastic and it's not just circus there is burlesque and vaudeville elements as well ''In Wunderkammer it's mostly where all of the extra stuff comes out because it is a deconstructed cabaret with burlesque stylings where we get to do all sorts of different things. "To bridge the gap between the worlds we will go from circus to burlesque and back again and throw in some vaudeville. It's great fun to perform in.'' What does Wunderkammer mean? "Wunderkammer loosely translated is cabinet of curiosities. Explorers would go to different places and they would find all of these things that hadn't been classified or discovered yet and they would put them in the wunderkammer and then that would be taken to places around the world. So that is where the literal translation of the name is coming from.'' What is it like working with director Yaron Lifschitz? "It is a really different experience to anything else that I have done before because I am super inexperienced in working with a director. "Yaron has his images of what he wants to evoke and his images in his brain and he gives us little sections of things that he wants us to visualise. He might give us an idea and he will give us two hours to work on that and he will go away and then he will come back after we have worked without any outside eye and we will present something to him at the end of it. "He will then give us notes and we will go over it and we just keep refining it and refining it like that. He has a very unique way of working with us which I think does develop some awesome work.'' What feel does this show have - is it darker? "I wouldn't say dark but it definitely has a few more adult themes, where because it's more suited to an intimate audience in a nice close theatre. Theme-wise it's mostly looking at the broader spectrum of cabaret and burlesque rather than telling a story.'' What about the costumes? "The costumes in Wunderkammer are really fun and the boys usually wear some long pants and no shirt but the boys get singlets and crowns and little shirts and the girls costumes go into a whole new world of clothes and they have something like 10 items of clothing each that they change into and out of throughout the show.'' I have heard that the girls in this show are quite physically strong. "Yes, that's another calling card of Circa and a lot of the girls take on a lot of flying and mix up the roles a lot and have boys climb on top of them instead of the other way around. It's good to break the stereotypes and a lot of the reviews that we get often mention the fact that Circa breaks the gender roles and the stereotypes.'' What made you get into circus? "I started off as a gymnast in high school and then when I finished high school I stopped gymnastics as well. But I became bored doing nothing and asked around for some recommendations as what to do and one of my old coaches mentioned circus and NICA is the only circus school in Australia that provides a university degree so I moved from Queensland to Victoria to go to NICA to study for three years. I highly recommend NICA and circus is an amazing discipline to be in.'' What is your favourite scene in the show? "There is a scene at the end of the show that we call breakdown and it's an opportunity for everyone to bring the show to an end and it's always improv and no-one ever knows what anyone is going to do on-stage and it makes for a lot of fun and interesting times and that's definitely my favourite at the moment. I am really enjoying riding the Circa wave!'' Circa's Wunderkammer, Her Majesty's Theatre, Adelaide, October 1 to 4. Bookings: BASS 131 246
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