Storytelling runs deep with Chasing Smoke

Lara Croydon of Casus Circus.
(Photograph by Meg Williams-Dell @dead_milk_photography)

By Isaac Gregor

Storytelling is as foundational an aspect to community as a rigger is to a circus act, and only at Woodford Folk Festival, in an evocative performance like Chasing Smoke, would you find these two facets intertwine so seamlessly.

As Australia’s only recognised troupe comprised entirely of Indigenous performers, Casus Circus have produced the show Chasing Smoke, that stretches itself over tens of thousands of years telling stories of identity, culture and community.

Dylan Singh, a proud Wiradjuri man, is a second generation circus performer, and appreciates the similarities between culture and career,

Dylan Singh, Jack Sheppard, Harley Mann during Chasing Smoke.
(Photograph by Meg Williams-Dell @dead_milk_photography)

“In our show we talk about community because Aboriginal culture is built off of it,” Dylan said.

“Circus is so alike, we’re almost brothers and sisters… we look after each other, we make sure everyone’s fed, everyone’s looked after.”

Something the Festival nourishes is the opportunity to tell stories, which Dylan says he had difficulty with.

“I always knew I wanted to tell my story, my culture, but I just didn’t know how and that’s been fluffed out and that’s been broadened through the experience we’re all going through,” he said.

Chasing Smoke encapsulates a narrative with chapters that bounce over generations, with contemporary aspects of their performance echoing the ancient – highlighting the struggle of identity after colonisation and the White Australia Policy.

Ally Humphris’ during Chasing Smoke.
(Photograph by Meg Williams-Dell @dead_milk_photography)

This identity strengthens as the show progresses; the connections are forged in an elegant style of acrobatics and sardonic, nuclear family style cooking show sketches.

Dylan Singh believes there’s a sense of responsibility that comes with the opportunity to do what he does.

“We can’t drop the ball, for one we are supporting and representing our culture… we’re representing young, modern Indigenous performers – whether that be theatre or music,” he said,

“Being a voice, being a presence for other young people to look at and think ‘They’re doing it, so can I’.”

Casus Circus will continue touring the show Chasing Smoke nationally and internationally in 2019, taking their stories all the way to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Final scene – final standing ovation.
(Photograph by Meg Williams-Dell @dead_milk_photography)

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