Cast members of Circa, a contemporary circus company of Australia. (Justin Nicholas)
A circus is coming to town. That’s right!
Circa, an Australia-based circus entity, is scheduled to debut two self-titled shows on Friday, March 14 and Saturday, March 15 at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica, Calif. Both performances start at 7:30 p.m.
Circa’s productions provide a unique rendering of “acrobatics, dance, light, and music that redefines circus.” Who’s the person behind this thrilling vision? None other than the CEO and Artistic Director, Yaron Lifschitz, who’s been Circa’s leader since 2004.
In an exclusive interview for Living Out Loud, Lifschitz spoke about his career, roles in the company, where he sees Circa in 5 years, and much more.
Living Out Loud: Tell us how your passion for the arts and theatre came about.
Yaron Lifschitz: I think these things choose you. I didn’t have a background in the arts. I can’t draw, dance, sing or act. I just heard a calling and walked towards the light and then a great many years figuring out how not to embarrass myself. I’ve been doing this job for over two decades now and I am still far from sure that I know how to do it.
LOL: You’ve directed numerous prominent productions over the years. Is there one in particular you found more challenging than the rest?
YL: Anything you do with integrity and guts is deeply challenging. I am a nightmare to live with before a production opens. I am up in the middle of the night, I’m irritable and I know that every production is doomed to failure and will be my last. That, sadly, is the only way I know how to make art.
LOL: You’re now the Artistic Director of Circa, and have been there since 2004. What’s been your biggest reward thus far?
YL: I take great pride and delight in the quality of our team. This is a collaborative art form and we work with the very best – artists administrators and production. Attracting and retaining people of this caliber is the source of exceptional pride to me.
LOL: How about your most memorable experience?
YL: The birth of my son.
LOL: You’re also the CEO of Circa. How do you balance both professional positions?
YL: I think it is about managing the imbalance. These are not balanced jobs. And I choose to work in the circus. Not really the place for comfort. But I personally enjoy the challenge of strategy, sales, budgets and all the other parts of the business. I think it is important that we are creative in our business and disciplined in our art. We often say that we treat our business like it’s an art and our art like it’s a business.
LOL: Circa’s performances are known to “redefine circus.” Why is that?
YL: I think most circus focuses on entertainment – the thrill of watching someone doing something fascinating in front of you. At Circa we unapologetically treat Circus like an art form – capable of moving, challenging and inspiring us. This means pushing the frontiers, challenging perceptions and driving the art form into new terrain.
LOL: Discuss Circa’s attire while on stage.
YL: We work with Libby McDonnell. A creative associate and costume designer. Libby trained as a dancer and so understands the particular requirements of costuming the physical body. It’s hard to balance form and function in circus and it’s a journey we are on together like all of our art. Our costumes tend to be stripped back, stylish and able to do the work they need to do.
LOL: Acclaimed Australian actress Cate Blanchett once said, “Yaron has elevated the way Australia perceives circus, both nationally and internationally. The extraordinary transformation that he has taken that company through… I mean remarkable.” How do you respond to that: with more hard work, more innovative visions?
YL: That’s a tough question! It’s not like you wake up and say I’m going to work hard or be innovative. It’s more a question of honoring the opportunities you have, of caring for the people you work with and believing in the art you’re making. I consider myself deeply lucky to wake up each day inspired and challenged by the work I do. It is a privilege and also a responsibility and then you get on with the job.
LOL: Circa’s notorious for international tours. Circa will soon perform in Los Angeles. What can the public of LA expect out of these much-awaited shows?
YL: I think the audiences can expect terrific circus skills with a strong sense of humanity and beauty. I hope they are moved to feel something.
LOL: Where do you see the company in 5 years?
YL: Doing more exciting projects, working, continuing to work around the world. Taking this wonderful art form on new adventures.
LOL: Anything else to add?
YL: Andy Warhol once said that sex and parties are the two things you actually still need to be there for. I think circus is a legitimate third to that list. It is the ultimate existential art form – the thing happens in front of you and the risks are real. Our job at Circa is to take that and turn it into something deeply affecting for our audiences.
March 14-15 (7:30 p.m.)
The Broad Stage
1310 11th Street
Santa Monica, CA 90401