The Flying Fruit Fly Circus began as a school holiday workshop in 1979. Forty years later it is a major national training organisation in circus skills for young talent and produces some of the most thrilling shows in the country. Junk, their latest touring production, is a perfect example. In a fusion of theatre and circus, Junk tells the story of a modern teenage boy who is risk-averse and devoid of life experience due to an over-protective, insular social culture. He stumbles upon a junkyard inhabited by the spirits of children from the 1940s who gradually teach him the joy of exploration and self-discovery. Director Jodie Farrugia says she was inspired to create the piece after observing the technology-centred play habits of present-day kids – including her own daughters.
“It made me really reflect on what life was like in the childhood of the past, and I chose the 1940s, in particular, to focus on,” explains Farrugia. “And it’s a regional Australian story. So we worked very closely with eight Australian elders who were children in the 1940s and grew up in Albury-Wodonga.”
The eight men and women from local aged care facilities spent time with the performers, recounting tales of their respective childhoods. These recollections were then storyboarded.
“There is a narrative, and it’s a very easily accessible narrative, but it’s all non-verbal,” explains Farrugia. “Then on top of all that is the wonderful, incredible circus skills that the young artists are doing onstage.”
The narrative explores themes around freedom of movement, discovering boundaries, taking risks, and being creative. It also looks at sustainability in a world of excess and materialism.
“The more we don’t use our imagination around recycling and reusing things, the more of an unsustainable world we’re creating,” says Farrugia.
Junkyard items are used as props and apparatus – and there’s not a digital device in sight.
Apr 17 & 18. Riverside Theatres, Cnr Church & Market St, Parramatta. $16-$39+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.riversideparramatta.com.au
By Rita Bratovich