Boxed in on the flipside: New circus centre shines as performance mecca – Nance Haxton, InQueensland

Boxed in on the flipside: New circus centre shines as performance mecca – Nance Haxton, InQueensland

13 March, 2023

Brisbane now has a circus space worthy of its stature as one of the biggest circus producers in the world with the opening of a striking new building made out of shipping containers, near the Brisbane River at Northshore Brisbane.

Written by Nance Haxton

Flipside Circus CEO Robert Kronk with performers at the Brisbane Circus Centre.

Flipside Circus is the first to use the purpose-built venue with its brand new show From Little Things opening on Friday, March 3, and a special open day for the public to come and investigate the amazing lego-like structure on Sunday, March 5 .

Flipside Circus CEO and Artistic Director Robert Kronk is proud that Brisbane finally has a circus venue worthy of it’s worldwide circus stature.

“Australia is probably the second biggest producer of circus talent on the planet behind Canada, and Brisbane is very much the powerhouse of that Australian scene,” Kronk said.

“Basically as soon as we can knock Montreal off we’ll be the world leader in circus.

The centre is housed in a semi-permanent modular building with an industrial 21st century aesthetic, that has perfect resonance with the eclectic bunch of Brisbane’s equally innovative circus companies

“There’s a lot of fantastically skilled circus artists who call Brisbane home. And we’ve been lucky that we have companies like Flipside, like Volcana, like Circa, like Cluster Arts here in the city that provide employment, but also provide support and infrastructure.

“There’s a critical mass of circus being made in this city. And Brisbane artists are on the road and on tour, on stages all over the planet all year round.

“So we’ve got world best artists working with our students all the time. Circus Brisbane has a great ecology where we’re sort of growing and developing artists – it’s a very collegiate sector. Circus artists are really generous with sharing their skills and sharing their knowledge and helping each other.”

He said when they couldn’t find a building high enough, creativity in design and a supportive circus community came to the rescue.

“It came about, I suppose, because we were looking for a new home and we were looking for novel solutions to create a new space,” he said.

“There just aren’t a lot of 12 metre high buildings with huge amounts of structural steel in the roof that you can dangle a lot of acrobats from. So we knew that we would be incredibly hard pressed to find an existing building that would sort of serve the needs for circus.

“I think it was four years ago I spoke at a fundraiser, and went `we can’t stay where we are, our building is unaffordable, and it’s about to be demolished and we’ve got to move’, and one pandemic, four years and a building later here we are.”

The result is a semi-permanent modular building with an industrial 21st century aesthetic, that has perfect resonance with the eclectic bunch of Brisbane’s equally innovative circus companies.

“Technically the whole thing can be broken up, moved and set up somewhere else. So for a circus company, I think it’s like having giant big steel boxes instead of canvas – basically the idea’s the same,” Kronk said.

“That modular construction really gave us a lot of flexibility. What a juggler needs and what a tight-wire artist needs are very different things in a venue. Shipping containers give us this.

“I love when everyone asks how long a room is, or how big a space is everything is – basically it’s multiples of 12 metres because that’s the length of a shipping container. It’s very easy to figure out.”

This flexibility means that Brisbane Circus Centre can act as a world-class performance space as well as a rehearsal and meeting space.

“We wanted to make a space where people could train and develop circus skills, where they could rehearse and build shows and where they could test and present them as well,” he said.

“And those three things really go together and make so much sense to make a space that is flexible enough to do all three.”

He said the premiere of From Little Things officially opening the centre tonight is both “terrifying and exciting”, and the open day will give people the chance to come and try their hands at circus skills, including a sensory-friendly workshop, highlighting the therapeutic benefits of circus for people on the autism spectrum.

“We wanted to build a space that is very welcoming and inclusive and circus is such a great form for that. Because there’s so many different skills and different disciplines actually within circus. It’s a great space to come to try a great form to find yourself whether that’s just for fitness, or whether you decide you want to hang off a trapeze for the rest of your life,” he said.

“Through our construction, there’s been so many people sort of sticky-beaking through the fence and then when the fences came down I think that the building feels really lovely and welcoming and warm.

“I like the fact that people have been curious and not too intimidated to stick their head in and say hello and see what’s going on.”

Share: