Leviathan | Q & A with YARON LIFSCHITZ
Terrific independent circus artists, stunning dancers and enchanting young performers
The art of circus is taken in an exciting new direction as 36 performers hang from a grid suspended in the air and propel themselves across the stage, tumbling, balancing and soaring together.
We caught up with Director Yaron Lifschitz to find out what twists and turns await us from Circa's internationally renowned ensemble in Leviathan ...
Image: Leviathan Acrobats, courtesy Circa
What’s the story behind the creation of Leviathan?
Leviathan was born from my desire to make a really big group show; a show featuring most of our ensemble on stage at once. That connected with my interest in ideas of freedom and responsibility and how these factors play out in society at large. At the same time, Circa has been innovating in engagement programs in communities around Australia and internationally. These have built a lasting legacy of ideas and skills. So I thought let’s create a project that brings in a large number of community-based groups with our ensemble – let’s just get them all in a room and see what happens. That’s essentially what Leviathan is.
Is the title Leviathan a reference to the Thomas Hobbes book?
Hobbes is one of the parents of modern political science and in Leviathan he explores why we give power to other people for what he describes as ‘some future apparent good’. The famous frontispiece of the book Leviathan is a monster king rising up out of the sea whose body is constituted by these tiny little people – the populace. That image is very central to this show. If we are part of a community, what does freedom mean? How do we navigate the relationship between freedom and responsibility? It is my strong belief that freedom is not absence of responsibility but rather full acknowledgement of our interdependence. I wanted to dramatise the complexity of these dynamics – how structure and group contain, confine and liberate us. One thing I love is how we see the cast sometimes as a swarming insect-like mass, sometimes as individuals, sometimes as a mob.
Image: Yaron Lifschitz
What are the benefits (and / or challenges) of collaborating with local artists, working alongside Circa artists?
There’s a great energy that gets unleashed when people come together and share from a place of generosity – I think something magical happens. Logistically and operationally it’s complex and you have to design a show in a slightly different way to how you might normally do it, but everyone brings a strong set of talents to play and moments of wonder and beauty emerge. We have terrific independent circus artists, stunning dancers, enchanting young performers and, together with our acrobats, they create a vast diversity of textures and experiences. There’s a real feeling of a mass of humanity which is tremendously exciting to see on stage. It’s a very complex show to construct and deliver but what I’m seeing on stage is powerful.
Why do you think circus as an artform is currently so strong in Australia?
I think some of the reason is historical and situational. We’re working in a golden time when there are good companies and people doing strong work, great training institutions and significant work available. This builds on our long tradition of circus and physical theatre – starting in traditional forms and growing through new and contemporary circus with companies like Circus Oz, the Fruit Flies and Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus. We have been pioneers in new, and more recently, contemporary circus. I also think we lack pretentiousness; we see the world with open eyes and minds and this allows us to create fearless work unencumbered by rules and traditions. A fresh, sometimes radical take on reality. Plus luck and timing. It’s a great moment to be making circus in Australia.