Australia Physical theatre company Gravity and Other Myths auditions next generation of acrobats and circus hopefuls
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These crazy, COVID times are enough to make you want to run away and join the circus — and 22-year-old Margot Mansfield is hell-bent on doing just that.
"I felt like this is my passion and while I'm young I may as well give it a shot," she said, in a break from auditions for acclaimed physical theatre company Gravity and Other Myths.
Before COVID-19 again shut down states and borders, Gravity issued the call for acrobats nationwide to head to its Adelaide headquarters.
The company, formed in 2009, needed performers to join its expanding repertoire of constantly rotating shows, both nationally and overseas.
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The response was overwhelming.
"I don't think we really expected this many people to turn up," Gravity Director Jascha Boyce said.
"[We've] had almost 40 people each day and it's actually been a lot of fun, we've got to hang out and train with so many different people from all across Australia, who we wouldn't normally be able to connect with."
For three days, the hopefuls strained every possible sinew to impress, knowing only the best would make it through.
"I was a little bit nervous coming in — I feel like I always have before-nerves, but everyone's so welcoming," Mansfield said.
Boyce said those who were successful won't necessarily demonstrate exquisite circus and acrobatic skills.
"You can develop skills and technique more easily than you can develop that connection with the company and even with individuals in the company," she said.
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Sam Matthewman has such a connection. The problem is, it's with his brother Tommy — and both are fighting to make the cut with Gravity.
The 25-year-old is pragmatic and quietly confident.
"I think if one of us got in, it wouldn't be long before the other person got in as well," he said.
"Both of us are pretty ideal candidates, my brother being a base [of acrobatic acts] and me being more of a base and a middle, I think we're what they're looking for at the moment."
In order to get to the stage of contemplating a full-time circus career, Matthewman had to conquer the fear acrobats and performers take into every show and rehearsal.
It's a mindset he has tuned through countless Adelaide Fringe performances.
"You learn to control the fear and channel it into focusing more on what you're doing," Matthewman said.
"Being really finely tuned with your body and then you know nothing is going to go wrong because you know your limits."
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But even knowing your limits isn't always enough, Margot Mansfield is still sporting a brace on her wrist after a recent surgery.
"Broken bones and things like that, I guess it comes with the job, you have to be really careful," she said.
Gravity and Other Myths has three shows constantly touring worldwide and has developed another two during the pandemic.
It needs at least eight new acrobats, with that number likely to increase next year.
The company has bookings overseas toward the end of the year in countries including Germany, France, Austria and the Netherlands — if it gets cleared to leave Australia.
"We just have to get an exemption, we have all the bookings ready to go and they're all as far as we know going ahead," Boyce said.
"We're pretty prepared in terms of making sure we're vaccinated and all of those things, so it is actually quite safe for our artists to travel."
If Gravity gets the green light, some of the performers could be on tour for up to eight months.
But first, the state borders have to reopen so the company can audition interstate performers who couldn't travel for the initial tryouts.
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