Yaron Lifschitz, Artistic Director and CEO, Circa

I just want to keep making shows and working with amazing people ...

Yaron Lifschitz might not be able to do a backflip, but his creative mind and passion for circus has seen him transform Circa from a fledging circus troupe into an internationally respected company. Yaron started his career working as a theatre director for ten years, but his artistic spirit really came alive when he became involved in circus. Immediately, he was drawn to the beauty of physicality that is celebrated by the art form, and the intimate relationship that develops between an audience and performers during a considered circus composition. With Circa having now achieved the status of an internationally touring company, Yaron strives to continue to make works of philosophical and poetic depth that will propel circus forward as an art form. His latest effort is Beyond, which makes its Australian premiere at Brisbane Powerhouse, following a successful season in Berlin. Disguising its philosophical ruminations under the veil of captivating acrobatics and cheeky comedy, Beyond journeys into a tender world where performers explore their animal instincts and human foibles through seemingly impossible physical feats. Ahead of the show’s opening night, The Weekend Edition sat down with Yaron to chat about art and his inspirations.

Beyond will be showing at Brisbane Powerhouse from April 30, what can local audiences expect from the show?
The unexpected! It’s a big, warm hearted, thrilling, surreal and beautiful show. Part Moonrise Kingdom, part David Lynch, part Circa.

What were the biggest challenges in bringing this production to life?
It was created with a new team, new acts and fresh ideas. I was terrified throughout – balancing all the elements was a real challenge. But then its inner-life took over and now a stage full of bunnies rule!

What do you hope to achieve in your role as artistic director and CEO of Circa?
I’ve been doing this for 15 years and I feel like I’m just at the start. I’d like to get better at balancing art and business, making richer art and more stable business choices. But mostly, I just want to keep making shows and working with amazing people.

You’ve directed more than 60 productions and have tutored students around the country – what have you learnt about getting the best results out of people?
Find people who are in it for the right reasons, trust them, challenge them and learn to stay out of their way so they can do brilliant things, then say thank you. We have an incredible team and they eat catastrophes for breakfast.

You were the youngest person to ever be accepted into NIDA’s prestigious graduate director’s course. Did you find that your age worked for or against you?
At the time I thought it was a great positive, but I now know that anything worthwhile takes time and effort and love, and I spent two decades afterwards struggling to make things I like.

Your works have been seen by more than 500,000 people in 27 countries across six continents – which piece are you most proud of?
Our creations are like children – I love them all but sometimes they misbehave and at others they are extra-profoundly astonishing. Being in Brisbane is always a wonderful experience. Most recently, our season at the Barbican Centre in London with Opus was extraordinary.

What do you hope your legacy will be?
Hopefully that I helped make circus a deep art form, brimming with poetry, ideas and feelings. That I helped acrobats grow into artists and I helped steward a small company from Brisbane to global renown.

What inspires and influences your work?
Everything. Music, my partner, my son, reading, movies, ideas, people, wine.

If you were to take a tourist on a cultural tour of Brisbane, which venues would you stop at?
GOMA, Brisbane Powerhouse, City Botanic Gardens, Sourced Grocer, our back deck.

What’s worth fighting for?
I think climate change, arts funding, NDIS and the ABC could all use a bit of assistance right now.

What are your essentials for a well-spent weekend?
The New Yorker, a bottle of red, too many coffees, not too many Skype calls at weird hours and time with our little family.

How do you define success?
Loving what you do and the people in your life.

What are your words of wisdom?
Sleep is for cowards.

Only a Brisbane local would know that … Yeronga Park Swimming Pool is the greatest playground on earth, with hours of fun for children and decent coffee.

Perk-up …
Jamie’s Espresso Bar, Fortitude Valley.
Relax … Yeronga Park Swimming Pool.
Dine … Hatch & Co., Newstead.
Indulge … Anise, New Farm.
Catch-up … Sourced Grocer, Teneriffe.
Be inspired … GOMA and Brisbane Powerhouse.


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