Posted by Meredith Benke Bell
In five weeks, the curtain will open on a brand new TK circus show, Silly Plonkers and the Dentist’s Factory! This show is being developed by co-directors, Rowan Thomas and Jamie Bretman, with additional support from colleague, Simon Wright. Crystal Stacey is directing all aerial performances with rigging support from Nel Simpson. In a year that has quashed much interstate travel, we feel really lucky to be able to bring together visiting artists to work with our amazing local trainers.
These and other talented touring artists will take time out from circus teaching duties to show their amazing skills at Bust Out Cabaret (and the brand new, family-friendly, Little Bit Bust Out, produced by Georgia Deguara). As you’ll see them on the training floor as well as on the Broome Convention Centre stage, I thought you might like to know a few facts about the show team:
Rowan Thomas – co-director/circus trainer. Raised in Broome, this is the first time since going to circus uni that Rowan has been home for a Sandfly show. Since finishing at the National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA - Australia’s only circus university), Rowan has toured around the world, performing for professional companies including Marrugeku, Briefs Factory, Circus Oz, Lunar Circus, Let’s Circus, Casus, 360 All Stars and Dummies Corps. Rowan replaced Jamie in his role in Splash Test Dummies this year due to Jamie’s ankle injury, so many Broomies would be familiar with his great clowning and cyr wheel antics! In addition to his stage successes, Rowan is a much loved circus trainer who always wanted to put coaching first.
Jamie Bretman – co-director/circus trainer. Jamie is a founding member, performer and executive producer at Dummies Corp., the company responsible for Splash Test Dummies and several other shows. He plays multiple musical instruments and has studied circus at NICA as well as at Circo Arts in New Zealand. Jamie worked with me for over a year to plan the Splash Test visit in March as well as this exciting show residency, so it’s exciting to finally welcome him to Broome! He describes this project as his ‘dream job,’ marrying his love for making performance forchildren with his love for making performance with children.
Simon Wright – circus trainer. Simon is also a NICA graduate. Following NICA studies, he developed the show, Trash Test Dummies with Jamie and Jack Coleman (who visited us in March). This was the start of Dummies Corp, which now has multiple shows touring at once. You may have seen Simon on Hoopla Doopla, an ABC children’s show which was filmed on set in China. Simon specialises in unicycle, juggling and juggling ping pong balls with his mouth! He is an enthusiastic trainer with a keen interest in studying Chinese.
Crystal Stacey – aerials trainer. Crystal has been home in WA since Covid shut down international touring opportunities, so many of you have gotten to know her since we started Sandflies Go Viral. But, did you know that she toured around the world for years with the award winning Hot Brown Honey? Crystal’s first overseas performance occurred while she was a Broome high school student working on Marrugeku’s Buru performance. (Rowan was also in this show!) Amongst other exciting opportunities, Crystal performed for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. She has been performing during Covid with a Perth-based ensemble in a show called She is Strong.
Nel Simpson – Rigger/Aerial Support. Nel specialises in aerial circus, stilts, large scale puppetry and street theatre. Though based in Perth, she has taught extensively in regional WA, and she has worked with Theatre Kimberley on Sandfly Circus, Worn Art and Dragonfly Outreach projects for 15 years! Nel has had a major role in Spare Parts Puppet Theatre’s String Symphony, a festival performance which allows audience members to help operate a giant illuminated puppet. You might remember this performance towering over Streeter's Jetty for the first Chinatown Discovery Festival in 2019.
Theatre Kimberley is supported by the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, the Royalties for Regions funded Regional Arts and Cultural Investment Program and Regional Arts WA. Our program is proudly supported by Healthway’s Act Belong Commit Campaign. We would also like to thank the Tate Family Foundation, the Shire of Broome, KD Harburn, Kennards Hire, Goolarri, and the Broome community for their ongoing support.