Darcy Grant – From Nimbin to Berlin

Darcy Grant – From Nimbin to Berlin

Nimbin based acrobat, director and performer Darcy Grant is a busy man. He recently premiered a new work at Adelaide Festival, he is performing in NORPA’s site-specific show Dreamland in Bangalow in May and his own work Fold: A Domestic Circus premieres at NORPA in June before a European tour.

What inspired you to ‘run away and join the circus’?

As a kid in remote far north Queensland I loved sport and my folks were artists. I found out about the amazing Flying Fruit Fly circus school when I was about to go to high school and it seemed like the best way of combining my interests. My parents are adventurers and they encouraged me to apply and I got in. I moved 3500kms to “run away” with the circus and haven’t looked back.

What are the challenges of working in the arts in a regional area?

Freelancing in the arts from the country is not for the feint hearted. I can safely say that there is no way I could have done so over the last 2 years without the continual support from NORPA. They are one of the few remaining professional theatre companies based in regional Australia creating new work. Not only have NORPA provided me solid local employment but the work is always consistently important, interesting and in my opinion, World Class.

What character do you play in NORPA’s Dreamland at Bangalow A&I Hall?

I play Jason, a thirty something tree changer whose situation hits scarily close to home for me. He finds balancing work and family life in the country tough. The dream is not always the reality… or maybe it’s just a different dream. It’s such a pleasure to be part of a work that is rooted in the here and now and tells a Northern Rivers story. Jason’s story (and indeed the history of place in the piece) has currency in our little slice of paradise.

Are you a tree changer? What do you love about living in the Northern Rivers?

Of sorts… I’m from far North Queensland originally and the Northern Rivers has a homely feeling to me. I moved here to have kids with my partner who is also an acrobat and grew up in Nimbin. I love its wildness and proximity to the city. The best of both worlds.

You have a new work Fold: A Domestic Circus premiering at NORPA in June – tell us a little bit about it…

I always wanted to make a show with good friends and long-term collaborators Lewie West and Mieke Lizotte. The content is intentionally close-to-home. It’s a story about lust, partnership, co-dependence and what might be – in a domestic setting. We are very happy to be premiering it at NORPA before we head to Europe.

How did you go about developing the idea for Fold: A Domestic Circus?

Whether it’s your kid, your partner, or your mate, life happens and things get more challenging. I like starting from a really loose place, and building physical things, and then seeing what they tell me in terms of content and themes. With circus making, as opposed to regular theatre or dance, you’ve to carve out the physical work before you arrive at the central idea. Rather than going, ‘I’m going to be Romeo and you’re going to be Juliet and I’m going to do some backflips to impress you,’ with Fold we explore familiar gestures and transform them into highly-skilled acrobatics. We take a mundane act like folding a shirt and magnify it. It becomes a complicated, virtuosic spectacle. When that’s happening, and it’s working, you don’t need any words.

You recently premiered a new work at Adelaide Festival – tell us a little bit about that work and what the experience was like…

Yes, I’ve just picked myself up off the floor after my second major festival commission with acrobatic company Gravity & Other Myths. It went extremely well but it was a complicated birth! There’s no greater honour (or pressure) as a director than to be backed by a major Australian festival to make an original work. Out Of Chaos will head to Ireland and the Netherlands before it begins a 7 month season in Berlin. I’m lucky and exhausted.

What’s next for Darcy Grant?
Freelance hustling is exciting and hard. Anyone got any jobs?!

This article originally appeared in Paradiso magazine.

Check out the incredible images below from the creative development of Fold.


Photos | Hamish McCormick @carnivalcinema