Three Decades of Circus
Warehouse Circus was founded 30 years ago by Sonia Young, after receiving a grant to run a three-month program at a local community centre. Little did she know she was laying the foundations for Canberra’s longest running youth circus, and paving the way for generations of circus artists to come.
Sonia Young moves to Canberra from Albury where she had been training as a member of the Flying Fruit Fly Circus. She is keen to start a youth circus in her new town.
She begins a youth circus project in Belconnen at the Belconnen Community Centre from an IMPACT grant, and money from the Canberra Labor Club. The project culminated in a show and tour of local schools.
With the hard work of her, her family, and Charles Paskin, the project was a success.
Sonia and Charles continued the circus beyond the three months and ran the circus for the first couple of years.
The circus performs at Floriade for the first time. Karen Yaldren and Kylie O’Keeffe joined the circus in the beginning of 1991.
Many of the Canberra Youth Circus gang sign up for ‘Summer School’, an Arts Council run project open to the public, which ended with a bigtop extravaganza of all the performers who attended.
David Jacquier begins working with Canberra Youth Circus.
David Jacquier takes over running the circus in 1993, with Karen Yaldren, Belinda Cullen and Kylie O’Keeffe as assistant trainers.
Yos Worth was employed by the Arts Council to run the Youth Circus Extravaganza. The project runs for three weeks in January (School Holiday Program) and lots of Canberra Youth Circus kids participate. It ends in a tent show Strictly Circus, in Commonwealth Park on Australia Day!
Lots of people, including Skye Morton, joined after participating in the extravaganza.
Shebbang! Canberra Youth Circus partners with Canberra Youth Theatre for Shebbang, coincidentally kicking off a long-time tradition of giving theatre shows awesome names. First Warehouse theatre show to feature a three-high! Adrian Redman was a Knack Gnat, but joined Canberra Youth Circus after the show, later becoming one of our head trainers. We also formed a partnership with a circus in Moruya. Called the ‘Here Goes’ Circus – They were our sister circus. A billeting arrangement was made so that their performers could be in the show, and ours could train with their circus.
Warehouse Circus tours beyond Canberra for the first time, performing in towns along the South East coast including Cooma, Tathra, Bermagui, Milton and Shell Harbour
Warehouse Circus sends participants to the Fruit Fly National Training Project for the first time.
Warehouses and White Pages
Warehouse Circus is run by Kylie O’Keeffe, Skye Morton, Karen Yaldren, and Belinda Cullen.
Jeremy Davies and Paul O’Keeffe join in mid-1994.
Canberra Youth Circus is featured on the front cover of the 94 White Pages.
Canberra Youth Circus can no longer afford the rent at the Belconnen Community Centre, so moves to ‘The Warehouse’ Youth centre next door, and takes on the name Warehouse Circus!
To save money, the trainers work as volunteers.
A troupe of Warehousers heads down to the National Fruit Fly Training Project. The trainers and participants get a grounding in a whole new skill set, and some great teaching techniques.
The big show that year was School’s Out! Warehouse Circus’s second tour! Followed closely by School’s Out! (Winter Edition).
Debbie Pradela trains and tours with The Wenatchee Youth Circus in the USA.
Warehouse Circus embarks on a World Tour… on stage at least. A country-hopping show featuring Wild West shootouts, Magic, and hijinx.
More Warehousers attend the FFFC National Training Project.
Karen Yaldren begins professional work as a roving circus artist and stiltwalker
Ten Hour Circus-athon
Skye Morton leaves Warehouse to attend CircoArts in New Zealand, and subsequently tours with Circus Aotearoa.
Kylie O’Keeffe tours with the Wenatchee Youth Circus in the USA for three months. It’s definitely an experience.
Warehouse Circus fundraises with a 10-hour circus-a-thon in Garema Place. We tried to see how long a show could be. 10 hours was a good start!
Snazwah – Warehouse Circus gets their first ever funding to stage a major work. The result is Snazwah! A live circus and music extravaganza that featured Magicians, High-flying circus, and a flying fox entrance for a unicycler right over the audience’s head. They’d never let us do that again…
Paul O’Keeffe and Jeremy Davies tour internationally with Wake Baby – Company Skylark’s renowned puppetry work.
Paul, Kylie and Jeremy form Kronik – a spectacular circus company that set a tone that many, many future circus companies followed. With Noah Marley and guest artists, they blend Circus, Dance, Skating and Hip Hop shows in amazing works. While not formally our first group of emerging artists, certainly our first artistic group to emerge from Warehouse!
They also start a circus creative hub with Noah Marley, and Canberra musician Joe Ferguson in Fitzroy, Melbourne, which would later evolve to become Blue Circus Studios- the incubator and rehearsal space for dozens of the country’s biggest circus shows.
Acrobaticomatical appeared at the Belconnen Community Theatre at the end of ‘97, featuring the next generation of A-Troupers in their first ever theatre show.
The Best Fun You’ve Had In Ages!
In January, Warehouse Circus hosts its own national training project. Featuring masterclasses from Jo Lancaster, Simon Yates, Tim Freeman and others from the company Acrobat, it is held at the farm in Kambah and is an enormous success, boosting Warehouse Circus skill knowledge.
The first show under new managing director Pablo Latona. A whole show centered around the premise: how do we get that hammer down? The Best Fun You’ve Had in Ages appears at the Belconnen Community Centre. The show gets its name from the tagline for the show, mistaken as the title. One of the last shows at Warehouse for many of the current performance troupe, they went out with a bang performing at the opening of the newly refurbished Canberra Playhouse.
Speaking of the Playhouse, Circus Ethiopia toured to Canberra in 1998, and borrowed Warehouse Circus equipment for their show. The cast came and met and trained with us, and that’s where we met Sosina Wogayehu, An astounding bounce juggler and contortionist, who would stay in Australia after the tour and perform with Circus Oz.
Cirqadelic appears at the Street Theatre. The next big funded show from Warehouse, Cirqadelic featured the band Perfunktion giving it their funky all on a scaff high above the performers, and great circus stunts. The show is directed by Kylie O’Keeffe, Jeremy Davies, and Pablo Latona.
Our First Decade!
Warehouse Circus does smaller scale shows all over the place – Floriade, The Westmead Teddy Bear’s Picnic, The Multicultural Fest, and many more.
Warehouse Circus gets a new logo courtesy of Canberra graphic designer Alberto Florez.
After much lobbying from the circus industry (including a lobbying performance on the lawns of parliament house with Warehouse Circus and Circus Oz), The National Institute of Circus Arts is launched in Melbourne.
Dawn Fire Shows
Warehouse Circus is the first act to perform at the grand opening of the National Museum of Australia. With a troupe headed by Pablo Latona, and directed by Sue Broadway, the performance troupe were dressed, ready and extremely chilly to perform a fire club passing routine as dawn broke.
Warehouse welcomes back Skye Morton as general manager. The new performance troupe perform extensively around Canberra, and many kick off their first gigs as professional roving performers.
Kronik wins best Newcomer at the Melbourne Fringe Festival.
Warehouse Circus performs at the National Library of Australia’s centenary.
Ummm…Brella? Features at the Belconnen Community Theatre. It’s fun! The first Warehouse theatre show in three years.
Warehouse Circus performs at Westmead’s Teddy Bear’s Picnic fundraiser, Floriade, The Multicultural Festival, and many more places.
24 Hours Of Circus
The circus is rendered homeless when the Belconnen Youth Centre changes management and program funding allocation. We spend the year floating from home to home, including backyards, parks, the Orana School, and more, but are given safe harbour by the Northside Community Service, thanks to some friends in high places… (Kylie. It was Kylie again.)
Kylie O’Keeffe and Skye Morton go into overdrive doing whatever they can to keep a homeless circus going. Trainers, staff, parents, participants and board jump in however they can, It is all hands on deck!
That year featured the infamous 24-hour non-stop circus-a-thon to raise money and awareness for Warehouse Circus’s plight. Non-stop performances from Warehouse circus members past and present made sure there never a moment where there wasn’t something interesting happening on stage. Acrobats performing in the frost at 3am in Garema Place was a sleepy sight to behold! Lewie West, Ali O’Dea and Owen Abbott are a force to be recognised as they commit to being on stage all night. All the rest of the troupe are asleep in the back of the truck.
In October of 2003, the Circus incorporated, becoming an independent body. The original Warehouse Circus Circus For Life Festival ran from September 4 to October 8 to celebrate these dates.
Steve Goodman becomes the organisation’s first president.
Warehouse Circus performed in a massive Big Top at the National Folk Festival in the biggest circus show yet presented at the National – a collaboration between local Canberra acts and national acts (including Kronik)
Paul O’Keeffe is our first alumnus to be accepted into the National Institute of Circus Arts.
La Crepe House
While in the Northside Community Centre Hall, Warehouse Circus launches the proper Emerging Artist Programme (Tom insisted on the archaic spelling).
Schmick As are the prototype performance troupe. The troupe features Tom Davis, Elena Kirschbaum, Sam Floyd, Rachael Sneddon and Sam Davey.
Warehouse begins its World Juggling Day festivities, and we make stronger connections with the Sydney juggling community.
Warehouse forms a partnership with Rivett Primary School and moves to the Southside!
La Crêpe House is our major show that year, and tells a story of a dodgy restaurant, an enormous cockroach, and a fastidious health inspector come to assess the place. Performed at The Street Theatre, and featuring local wunderkind band Cicada. Directed by Kylie O’Keeffe and Jeremy Davies.
Christina Bond becomes our second Warehouse Alum to be accepted into NICA. She performs handstands like a boss for ever after.
Bam! Blasts its way onto stage at the Street Theatre. A show that featured performances from Canberrans with complex disabilities, as well as live music from Cicada, and a frustrating microphone (turns out it was a carrot). Kylie O’Keeffe Produces, Directs and even builds the set!
Warehouse Circus runs world juggling day in Garema place guest performances by Justin Sane (Melb), Terry The Great (QLD),The Mad Hatter (Syd), James BuStar (Vic), Ludicris (QLD), and emceed by Nicholas J Johnson, as well as performances from Warehouse participants and other local artists.
El Kirschbaum, Lewie West and Tom Davis appear in Seussical! The Musical By the Phoenix Players.
Kylie O’Keeffe steps back into the official role of General Manager of the circus.
Paul O’Keeffe and Jeremy Davies go on tour with Circus Monoxide.
Lewis and El are the first two Warehouse folks to go to the Tasmanian Circus Festival. THE industry event for years, it was the launching ground for several arts companies featuring Warehouse Alumni.
El forms Highwire Events and Entertainment, later rebranded as Highwire Entertainment. A company that goes on to create many award-winning shows, many of them featuring Warehousers!
Schmick As Presents
Our emerging artist troupe perform Schmick As Presents! at the Street Theatre to sellout crowds. Described by their fourth member as being ‘good’, it receives strong reviews.
Lewie West is the third Warehouse Alum to be accepted into NICA
Trainers and Admin team Kylie O’Keeffe, Skye Morton and Tiane Nixon form Canberra circus troupe Champagne & Peanuts
Warehouse stages the double bill of Suits/Cirqarella, with shows created by the advanced troupe AND the Intermediate troupe, performed at the Belconnen Community Theatre.
Rivett Primary School is one of the many schools that closed, seeing Warehouse Circus homeless again!
Kylie O’Keeffe with assistance from the board, lobbies hard for a new space…
After a six month period of a local cartoonist as our interim manager, we get a workdesk covered in cartoon sketches and Colin Grant as our new ongoing general manager.
He later goes on to help make Zambrero’s a national chain, so there’s a weird link.
El starts The Circus Space – a space in Canberra where cross-arts and sports disciplines meet. Warehousers and Ex-Warehousers make connections to gymnasts, cheerleaders, sports acrobats, dancers, and more, fostering new shows, events and activities. Eventually Warehouse has space to offer emerging artists time in our Chifley space, but this vibrant collective did a lot!
Tom Davis becomes our fourth NICA student.
Fragile, directed by Warehouse alumni Jane Bloomfield and Pablo Latona and produced by Kylie O’Keeffe and Tiane Ryman performs at the Street Theatre, and Warehouse Circus prepares to makes a move…
Warehouse Circus moves into our wonderful home at the Chifley Health and Wellbeing Hub.
Paul O’Keeffe joins the cast of Circus OZ.
Local circus artist Jane Schofield begins working at Warehouse, later going on to be a mainstay of Australian Circus.
The National Capital Authority delivers funding for a new carpark to be built with the specific intention of drawing global sensation Cirque Du Soleil to Canberra. The company return 3 times and engage with Warehouse students during their visits.
Le Petit Circus, created by El, premiered at the Corinbank Festival, a show that has now existed and toured Australia and South East Asia for over 12 years and still going! Over the years it has featured Warehouse alumni including Jane Schofield, Tom Davis, Chris Singer, Kon Kudo, Julia Kirschbaum, Sam Floyd, Jake Silvestro and Elena Kirschbaum and others.
Jane Schofield, Julia Kirschbaum and Elena Kirschbaum perform in Canberra Repertory’s Old Time Music Hall at the Playhouse in the Canberra Theatre Centre.
Warehouse Circus makes a movie! ‘Performer’s Wanted’ made in 2009, launched at Questacon in 2010 with live shows and workshops.
The Bungee School Program in partnership with Belconnen Community Theatre helps Warehouse sustain TWO full time trainers!
Jeremy Davies joins the cast of Circus Oz.
Lewie West graduates from NICA and immediately signs up with CiRCA.
El and Julia Kirschbaum purchase a geodesic dome performance venue they call The Bally! It premieres at Corinbank Festival and appears at many festivals in Canberra and around the country. Managing this venue leads them to the Adelaide Fringe, helping showcase emerging arts companies from alumni including Tom Davis, Poncho Circus, Jane Schofield, Chris Singer and many more.
This partnership with Gluttony Arts Park at Adelaide Fringe sees El eventually become a partner in the enterprise.
Michelle Longhurst becomes president of the board.
Aleshia Johnson steps into the role of General Manager, later becoming our Executive Director.
Kylie O’Keeffe organises the circus’s twentieth Birthday party!
Thanks to a grant from the Chief Minister, Warehouse gets funding to build a permanent aerials rig in the Chifley space.
Projected is staged at the Belconnen Community Theatre, directed by Jane Schofield and Mark Lavis.
Tom Weatherley, a trainer at Warehouse becomes our fifth person to attend NICA.
Flipart Festival, a one time circus festival in Canberra created by local producer Frank Madrid runs. It featured a tiny Chris Singer as the hero image of the festival! included several shows in The Bally featuring Warehouse alumni.
On The Road Again
Warehouse goes on tour again for the first time in 16 years. A great show directed by Jane Schofield and Mark Lavis, featuring Performance Troupers old and new. [click here for a link to a documentary made by Steven Walker]
The Christchurch earthquake destroys the CircoArts school in New Zealand (that Skye Morton once attended), scattering students and alumni. Many students finish their course at NICA in Melbourne. As a silver lining, Warehouse Circus is fortunate to receive new trainers Dan Gunthorpe and Max Delves.
Our partnership with UC High School Kaleen begins, returning Warehouse to teaching classes in the Northside. Our new trainers Dan and Max are instrumental in establishing the new space.
Highwire takes The Bally to Adelaide Fringe, beginning a relationship with new hub Gluttony. Shows include Pitch and El Bella’s Late Night Variety Assortment and include alumni Tom Davis, Elena Kirschbaum, Jane Schofield and Sam Floyd. It is the first known time Warehouse alumni have performed at Adelaide Fringe.
Warehouse Circus Alumni are a continued presence at the festival to this day.
A big year for major shows, with De Barri’s Bizarre opening for business at the Street Theatre as well as Mad as a Hatter & Around the World Circus Style at the Warehouse Circus HQ
Paul O’Keeffe joins the cast of CiRCA.
The Emerging Artist program restarts, with our third group of emerging artists forming a company. Jake Silvestro, Taygan Booth, Lachlan Sukroo, Piri Goodman, Cameron Summerville, and Cecilia Martin.
This group expands at the National Folk festival with Kon Kudo, Kate Angus, Jeff Young, Jack William Wild (aka Jack Mitchell). Jeff Young coins the company name Poncho Circus. This group premieres their first theatre production, UNDERGROUND, with the support of Warehouse circus at the QL2 theatre.
Jake Silvestro represents Warehouse as part of the “Merging Emerging” project at the Catapult Youth Circus festival in Bathurst.
Circus for Life Festival relaunches! A 3 week festival, hosting a number of shows by Warehouse Circus students, graduates and other guests, including Pants Down Circus (some of the cast would later become trainers at Warehouse!).
Poncho Circus presents their second production Drawn In, a site-specific work supported by the Molonglo group in New Acton.
Warehouse does a big collaborative work with UC High School Kaleen at the AIS as part of Limelight.
A number of Warehouse Circus trainers and graduates including Jane Schofield, Daniel Gunthorpe, Max Delves, Elena Kirschbaum (highwire) and Poncho Circus collaborate with Mark Johnson to deliver a 2 hour circus extravaganza on a custom-built stage as part of Floriade’s night fest.
Warehouse formalizes its work with people managing complex disabilities, starting our SpinOut! Programs.
We also began our Jump Start programs for schools this year!
Steve Walker becomes president of the board.
Round and Round
Round and Round We Go at the Street Theatre kicks off revolutions! (We got our first German Wheel for this show)
Warehouse Circus hosts the National Youth Circus Symposium. In attendance is Ben Martin of Lieder Youth Theatre, who later becomes our admin whiz and lighting director of many Warehouse shows!
Canberra turns 100. El was contracted to run the major children’s and family festival named Kids, Creatures & 100 Harlequins in October. Pablo Latona was commissioned to co-create a parade of harlequins through the city that won a world record. Jane Schofield and Poncho Circus performed, Warehouse Circus did shows and ran workshops. A busy year for Warehouse and Canberra!
El Kirschbaum becomes co-owner of Gluttony, a fledgling arts park at the Adelaide Fringe festival, that grows to become one of the major players of the festival. Elle also directs and produces many award-winning and culturally acclaimed works, often starring Jane Schofield, along with an international cast of great performers.
Chris Singer goes to Nica to complete a Certificate 3 in Circus Arts while completing year 12
Tom Davis creates a new work LEFT. It wins the Gasworks Circus Showdown, and tours around Australia.
Tom Davis goes on tour with Circus Oz.
Refract reflects well on us, having a successful season at the Street Theatre. Directed by Nathan Anderson. It tours to Sydney, and has a return season in Canberra due to its popularity! Watch the Refract Documentary here!
Lachlan Sukroo goes to NICA
Poncho Circus perform at the Catapult festival and at Mullumbimby Circus Festival.
Warehouse takes a troupe to The Catapult Youth Circus festival in Bathurst. Cecilia Martin represents Warehouse in the emerging artists program.
Tom Davis’s company, Long Answers to Simple Questions, wins People’s Choice at the Melbourne Fringe Festival for his work ‘Left’.
Underground by Poncho Circus performs at the Street Theatre. It’s Poncho It’s Circus performs at the Gorman Arts Centre.
My Difficult Relationship With Gravity
A grand double bill of Oculus and My Difficult Relationship with Gravity appear at the Belconnen Theatre. Oculus is directed by Daniel Gunthorpe, MDRWG directed by Ben Vickers.
Cecilia Martin and Jack Wilde from Poncho Circus are accepted into NICA.
Poncho Circus tours to Thailand, regional VIC and Perth.
Jake Silvestro joins Casus Circus
Chris Singer joins Highwire Entertainment performing in Le Petite Circus”.
Warehouse Circus gets a new logo! The “dude” is removed from all branding, he is sorely missed to this day.
El and Tom are commissioned to write ‘The Dino Show’ for Scienceworks in Melbourne. It is the second of three commissions for the museum. Ell is given the rights to the Dino Show, and commissions Pablo to adapt it to become Dinosaur Time Machine! It tours for the next 6 years.
Polarity upends everything! A work directed by Poncho Artist Kon Kudo appears at the Street Theatre. Watch the full show here!
Piri Goodman heads to NICA.
Jake Silvestro tours with Casus, and Company 2.
Pablo Latona joins the Clown Doctors, entertaining children in hospital. He works alongside the country’s other great clowns, including Clare Bartholemew.
Poncho Circus develops Hardly Working.
Lachlan Sukroo graduates NICA.
Warehouse Circus runs another successful Circus For Life festival! it happens again at the Street Theatre hosting Papillon and Dinosaur Time Machine, both produced by and starring El.
Roma Rosette becomes president of the board.
Choices And Change
Choices and Change by our trainer Ben Vickers performs at the Belconnen Theatre, and tours to Dubbo for a training project and double bill with Circus West, organised by Paul Woodhead. Youth circuses from across NSW come and train with professional Australian Artists.
Elena Hood, Taygan Booth, Benton Adams-Walker and Joshua Strachan head off to NICA.
Cecilia Martin leaves NICA early to join the cast of CiRCA.
Jake Silvestro, trainer and emerging artist, Joins the cast of Circus Oz AND Dislocate
El creates ROUGE which goes on to win top circus award at Adelaide Fringe (2020) and a couple of weekly awards along the way (Adelaide 2018 and Perth 2019). It tours extensively through Australia and to the UK.
Poncho Circus premieres Hardly Working and tours to WA.
Lachlan Sukroo joins Circus Oz to relieve an injured Jake Silvestro, joining as core cast after impressing the company during his stay.
Poncho Circus performs at Mullumbimby circus festival.
Le Petit Circus tours to Singapore, as well as Melbourne, Adelaide, Warnambool, Gold Coast. It features Jane Schofield, Chris Singer and Kon Kudo.
Journeys In My Hat
Journeys in My Hat, directed by our resident artistic director Nathan Anderson wows audiences at the Belconnen Community Theatre. An ambitious collaboration with the Canberra Youth Orchestra, the show features both a live orchestral score and live mixing by fantastic local electronic artist Desine.
A new group of emerging artists form Blindspot: Beth Melmont, Nick Marsack, Tom Adams-Walker, Darby Sullivan and Tristan St. John. They perform to rave review at Catapult, and later their own work, Elevate at Belconnen Community Theatre as part of the UnchARTed Festival.
Several Staff members involved with Canberra Philharmonic Society’s production of Barnum! – Benjamin Martin, Sian Brigid and Rachael Blemings as Ensemble, Jano Simko as Ringmaster and Gavin Hillier as Circus Director.
Lewie West starts touring with Gravity and Other Myths (GOM).
Lachlan Sukroo joins the cast of Circus Oz.
Piri Goodman joins the cast of CiRCA
Jake Silvestro joins Company 2 before rejoining Circus Oz.
Benton Adams-Walker and Josh Stratchan leave NICA to join Gravity and other Myths and perform at the Catapult festival.
Sean Sullivan becomes president of the board.
High Brow, Low Key
Warehouse experiments with small in-house productions with the very successful Highbrow Low-Key, an all-in circus extravaganza performed in our Chifley training space.
Chelsea Hall, Louella Parker and Alan Martin all head off to NICA!
Lachlan Sukroo joins CiRCA.
Jake Silvestro joins CiRCA and rejoins Circus Oz.
Jane Schofield joins Circus Oz
Elena creates REBEL, featuring Chris Singer and Jane Schofield. ROUGE, produced by El, is presented by Canberra Theatre Centre in their Playhouse Theatre
Jack Wilde wins the Gasworks Circus Showdown!
Michael Davison becomes president of the board.
Social Perspectives video showcases what we do!
30 Years Of Warehouse!
Tom Adams Walker, Darby Sullivan, Tristan St. John, Jacob Kenner, Ethan Harris-Cross, and Jessie Holden head off to NICA, and Nick Marsack joins the Flying Fruit Fly Circus. Tom Adams Walker joins Gravity and Other Myths for their creative development.
Tom Davis returns to Warehouse as Artistic Director and acting Executive Director, and three weeks later the world shuts down. Warehouse faces financial crisis, saved by the hard work of the staff, board, members, ACT and federal government, and private sector funding bodies, particularly a large donation from a private philanthropic fund.
The Warehouse Circus performance troupe continue work on the major production “!?”, despite no longer having a confirmed season. Stay tuned!
Heather Nicoll Becomes President of the Board.
Jeremy Davies becomes the new CEO of Westside Circus in Melbourne, and the same thing happens to them! Continue to stay tuned to see the amazing new creation that emerges…
90% of the world’s circus jobs disappear in a week, Circus Oz and Cirque Du Soleil lower the curtain, with Cirque briefly declaring bankruptcy. They are rescued by funding from the Quebec Government.
And away we go…