Theatre | A physical connection

ACROBATIC: Circa's Humans explores how our bodies define who we are and what kind of burdens we can bear, physically and emotionally.
ACROBATIC: Circa's Humans explores how our bodies define who we are and what kind of burdens we can bear, physically and emotionally.

TWO very different but globally-acclaimed Australian theatre companies – Brisbane’s Circa, a contemporary circus ensemble, and Artback NT, a Northern Territory Indigenous performance organisation – are bringing engaging new works to the Hunter this month.

Circa’s Humans, which looks at what it means to be human and how our bodies, connections and aspirations form part of who we are, will have 8pm shows at Newcastle’s Civic Theatre on Friday and Saturday, September 14 and 15.

Artback NT’s B2M: Mamanta, at Cessnock Performing Arts Centre on Saturday, September 15, at 8pm, explores through performance and song life on Bathurst and Melville Islands (which gave the boy band B2M its name), 80km north of Darwin, with Mamanta meaning “friend” in the language of the region’s Tiwi people.

Circa’s Humans has had rave reviews from critics and audiences since its premiere season at the Sydney Festival in January, 2017, with Australian and international tours, including last year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival. 

Humans has 10 acrobats – six men and four women – showing what people can do with their bodies, breathtakingly performing acrobatics, contortionism, tumbling, balancing, aerial trapeze flights, handstands and backflips. In one scene they build a pyramid, with a man at the base holding the triangle of five people above him. And the somersaults and trapeze swings reportedly have watchers in open-mouthed awe.

The show has an engaging mix of background music and sounds, including sultry jazz, pop songs, numbers from musicals, and some classical sounds which underline the emotions of the performers as they try to do very different things with their bodies.

Circa’s acclaimed director, Yaron Lifschitz, has appropriately used Frank Sinatra’s The Impossible Dream in a scene where the performers try, through different contortionism, to lick their elbows. And one amusing sequence has performer Kimberley O’Brien using her mouth to flip real-life husband Daniel.

Tickets cost $30 to $48. Bookings: 4929 1977.

B2M: Mamanta is the first national tour by the title boy band, and it coincides with new musical releases by the team. It will explore, with the support of background images and projections, the history and lifestyles of the islands, with dance and chants also part of the 70-minute show.

The traditional song styles of their homeland will be complemented by rhythm-and-blues music. The band was hailed in a review of a performance during a recent British tour as “Australia’s answer to the Backstreet Boys”.

Tickets, $45. Bookings, 4990 7134.