International circus collaboration to premiere in Brisbane

Circa Contemporary Circus, one of the world’s leading performance companies, has joined forces with multi-award winning and globally renowned animation studio Aardman to create a new circus-theatre production for audiences of all ages, Shaun the Sheep’s Circus Show.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced today that Queensland had secured the World Premiere season to be held at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre in March 2021.

“Thanks to the way Queenslanders have managed the coronavirus pandemic, we’re now able to return to the theatre,” the Premier said.

“Today’s announcement is 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. 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.”

Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said Shaun the Sheep will be able to play to full houses and engage the young and the young at heart.

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

“The arts, cultural and creative sector plays a crucial role in our COVID-19 recovery, bringing our communities back together and supporting jobs for artists and arts workers.

“That’s why 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.

“The Palaszczuk Government will continue to invest in arts and cultural projects to support Queensland’s social and economic recovery.”

Shaun the Sheep’s Circus Show is being supported by the Queensland Government through a unique three-way partnership, comprising 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.

Trevor Evans MP, Federal Member for Brisbane, said “Circa’s Shaun the Sheep’s Circus Show will continue to build Brisbane’s reputation as one of the world’s significant circus cities and 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 2004, from its base in Brisbane, Australia, Circa has toured the world – performing in 40 countries to over 1.5 million people. Its work is continually greeted with standing ovations, rave reviews and sold-out houses across six continents.

Aardman is the Academy Award®-winning UK studio behind Chicken Run, Wallace and Gromit, and of course, Shaun the Sheep. The tales of an enterprising Sheep named Shaun and his farmyard pals have been seen in 170 territories worldwide, and has spawned two critically celebrated feature films, a half-hour special and over 170 television episodes. With a second half-hour special in production, set for a 2021 winter release, Shaun the Sheep will continue to entertain a whole new generation of international fans. Director Yaron Lifschitz and the Circa Ensemble capture all the sophisticated and challenging elements of Circa’s extreme physicality while embracing the fun, humour and playfulness found in the world of Shaun the Sheep.

Scenic Designer Dan Potra and Costume Designer Libby McDonnell have created a new world for Shaun and his flock to inhabit, seamlessly blending the dimensions of animation, stage, film and live acrobatics.

The entire family will be treated to a visual spectacle, with Aardman’s signature Shaun the Sheep animation, combined with live performance from Circa. Shaun the Sheep’s Circus Show is packed full of smart wit and outright hilarity, as Circa simultaneously blurs the lines between movement, dance, theatre and circus.

Director Yaron Lifschitz commented, “Shaun the Sheep is a playful, rambunctious feast of humour, good spirits and the triumph of the little guy. The medium of circus is a perfect vehicle for bringing these qualities to the stage. Melding the worlds of stage and screen, and incorporating the extreme physicality of circus without losing the emotional depth and charm of the original, is a major creative challenge – it’s the sort of thing we at Circa thrive on.

Circa’s Chair, Michael Lynch AO CBE said “This ambitious new creation is made possible with partners including Screen Queensland and QPAC, and through the incredible support from the Federal Arts Ministry and Arts Queensland”.

Aardman continues to innovate and inspire as its globally recognised and beloved characters step out beyond the screen, through its impressive portfolio of live experiences, exhibitions and attractions, which allow fans to experience the world of Shaun the Sheep in exciting and interactive ways.

Ngaio Harding-Hill, Head of Attractions and Live Experiences at Aardman, added:

“We have always had an ambition to create a Shaun the Sheep circus show. The physicality of circus performance marries perfectly with the slapstick traditions, thrills and humour of the brand. Circa’s creative vision made them the perfect partner to create a Shaun the Sheep Circus show for global audiences. Shaun is already very at home in Australia, so we are thrilled to premiere the show at QPAC.”