Go west, circus fans: this week sees new Australian troupe Casus perform their first show Knee Deep at Hammersmith’s Riverside Studios.
When it comes to humanity under the big top, it is not just about the tears of a clown. Knee Deep examines the physical and mental limits of the human self. Recent events have made manifest only too well how live shows can go be derailed by injury and misfortune.
The debut show from the lauded Australian circus troupe Casus comes to London for a month-long residency on the back of a successful run at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe. They can be seen from tonight until 22 June.
Jesse Scott is an experienced performer who toured with Australia’s leading contemporary circus company Circa for three years before becoming part of Casus. He spoke to Franco Milazzo about why Knee Deep is so special and how it came about.
Let’s dive right in. What is your show all about?
Knee Deep is an exploration of strength and fragility. It offers the audience a glimpse into the human side of circus where costumes, makeup and extravagant special affects do not override the true nature of the art form.
I’m pretty excited about playing the show at Riverside studios. We are performing in the round here and we have a few new tricks up our sleeves.
So where did it all begin?
Casus, which consists of four performers, was created in October 2011 and three weeks later we had Knee Deep in our hands. The show is constantly evolving just like we as performers are. Every time we put the show onto a different stage we change things up so we don’t get complacent; we need to live this show every night as though it’s the first.
Interest in circus has grown exponentially over the last few years. Why do you think this is so?
I believe circus is an easily assessable art form for most people: everyone likes to sit back and be inspired by humans pushing their physical limits. In recent years, it has stepped away from the style of productions made famous by Cirque du Soleil style and become more contemporary.
Circus can change and evolve at such a quick speed because there is no set rules everything is possible. People are constantly expecting more and we as circus performers can offer them that.
How is Casus different to other circus companies out there?
Casus and Knee Deep were created, conceived and tended by the four of us. I guess you could say that it is our baby. A lot of love has gone into making it the best it can be. We four are extremely close friends and that can be seen on stage. The trust and care we have for each other cannot be faked. A lot of people I talk to after the show tell me how moved they are by the bond we have. To me, this is the true heart of Knee Deep and Casus.
What’s your take on the quantity and quality of circus training in your hometown?
We live in Brisbane Australia and let me tell you when it comes to circus in Australia Brisbane is kicking ass. We have amazing people pushing the boundaries of circus everyday and the best thing about it is that the support every single person shows for each other. I would not want to live anywhere else.
Casus will be performing Knee Deep at the Riverside Studios until 22 June. More information and tickets can be found here. Need more incentivising? Here’s the trailer:
Photo credit: Sean Young for SYC Studios