Audiences set to flock to QPAC for world premiere of Shaun the Sheep’s Circus Show

In another sign the Sunshine State is leading the herd when it comes to the recovery of the arts and cultural sector, Queensland has secured the world premiere of a theatrical circus production centred around the wild and woolly exploits of Shaun the Sheep.

Dec 07, 2020, updated Dec 07, 2020
Brisbane's Contemporary Circus has joined forces with Aardman for a circus-infused theatrical production of Shaun of the Sheep, which will have its global premiere at QPAC in March. (Photo: ABC)

Brisbane's Contemporary Circus has joined forces with Aardman for a circus-infused theatrical production of Shaun of the Sheep, which will have its global premiere at QPAC in March. (Photo: ABC)

Brisbane-based performance arts company Circa Contemporary Circus has joined forces with global animation powerhouse Aardman for Shaun the Sheep’s Circus Show, which will premiere its season at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre in March 2021.

The news comes less than a week after the announcement that Shrek the Musical will be the first major musical to open to a 100 per cent capacity audience in Australia without the need for a special exemption when it kicks off its four-week season at the same venue next month.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the news on Saturday and said snaring the co-production was “a great win for Queensland, not only for our arts community but also for our economy as we continue to rebuild from the pandemic”.

“Shaun the Sheep is a global phenomenon,” Palaszczuk said. “It’s great to see Circa – one of the state’s most successful performance companies – premiere this show here in Queensland.

“The arts industry employs thousands of people throughout the state. World-class productions like this will help this sector to recover from the impact of COVID-19.”

The production is being supported by the Queensland Government through a three-way partnership, with investment from Screen Queensland, Arts Queensland funding via the Queensland Arts Showcase Program and QPAC as the presenting partner. The project has also been made possible by the Federal Government’s Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (Rise) fund.

In Shaun the Sheep’s Circus Show, the titular character will persevere through a traumatising tick infestation and the daily labours of saving the postman from sheepdog Bitzer’s angry attention, with Shaun and his flock set to entertain the audience with daredevil acrobatics and vibrant circus skills.

The production promises to combine Circa’s extreme physical feats and blend of movement, dance, theatre and circus with the playful charm of the multi-award-winning TV series Shaun the Sheep, which airs on ABC-TV in Australia.

Director Yaron Lifschitz said melding the worlds of stage and screen with the physicality of circus without sacrificing the emotional depth and charm of Shaun’s well-worn past outings was a major creative challenge but “the sort of thing we at Circa thrive on”.

Shaun the Sheep is a playful, rambunctious feast of humour, good spirits and the triumph of the little guy,” Lifschitz said. “The medium of circus is a perfect vehicle for bringing these qualities to the stage.”

Queensland Arts Minister Leeanne Enoch said Shaun the Sheep’s Circus Show, which will also play to 100 per cent capacity audiences, will connect with both the young and the young at heart.

She said the cultural sector would continue to play an important part in the state’s economic recovery and productions such as Shaun the Sheep would support ongoing employment for artists and arts workers.

Shaun the Sheep is a family favourite throughout the world and to have this production here is a fantastic win for Queensland,” Enoch said.

“The Palaszczuk Government is implementing nearly $60 million worth of measures to support the sector through the impacts of COVID-19 including the $22.5 million Arts and Cultural Recovery Package.”

Federal Member for Brisbane Trevor Evans said Shaun the Sheep’s Circus Show would “continue to build Brisbane’s reputation as one of the world’s significant circus cities”.

“I’m very pleased the Morrison Government has lent its support to this new family focused production. There is no better place for the world premiere to occur than right here in Brisbane.

“The Federal Government’s RISE Fund is targeted at supporting the reactivation of the arts and entertainment sector which has been hard hit by the pandemic and Circa is leading the way for performing arts organisations.”

Since its inception more than 15 years ago, Circa has played to more than 1.5 million people worldwide, toured the world, performing in 40 countries.

When InQueensland caught up with Lifschitz recently, he spoke about the importance of engaging younger audiences with live performance.

“My guess is that not a lot of young people have been to the theatre lately and I think that’s a pity because I think it’s a muscle,” he said. “It gets under your skin it gets into your psyche and that’s what we need.”

Academy Award-winning animation studio Aardman has also produced the long-running Wallace and Gromit franchise and Chicken Run.

The Shaun the Sheep television show has screened in 170 territories worldwide and there are long-term plans for the stage collaboration with Circa to tour internationally when COVID-19 restrictions ease across the globe.

Visit the website for more information on Shaun the Sheep’s Circus Show or to join the mailing list to access pre-sale tickets.

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