The Cast of The Classics: Quinquagenarian Circus

A group of circus performers prove you never have to hang up your clown’s hat

If you think your 50s and 60s are a time to put your feet up, read more books and go fishing, The Classics: Quinquagenarian Circus probably isn’t for you. If, on the other hand, you think that age should never slow you down, that you should still be able to leap in the air (sorry knees), tumble on a mat (sorry back), and tell bawdy jokes (sorry everyone!), then The Classics is definitely for you.

Victorian Seniors Festival favourites Sue Broadway and Deb Batton are at it again in 2019, and this year they’ve assembled what is arguably the greatest line-up of circus veterans ever to grace a Victorian stage.

From 11 to 13 October, there will be four hour-long shows of The Classics at the Melba Spiegeltent – the atmospheric 100-year-old wooden tent in Collingwood Arts Precinct, which is itself the most classic circus venue in the land.

Vintage circus

The Classics is a lively blend of vintage circus, showy cabaret and slapstick vaudeville, and has been charming audiences across Australia since 2014. The casts have always varied – united chiefly by their senior ages, and their shameless commitment to ‘ageing disgracefully’.

‘I can’t wait to be 60 and get my Seniors Card later this year,’ declares co-creator Deb. ‘I feel like I’m having a brand new career at the moment, which is absolutely exploiting my age!’

For this show, Deb and Sue have teamed up with a ‘cast of legends’, including Circus Oz co-founders Robin Laurie and Tim Coldwell, trapeze artist Kathryn Niesche, songstress Carolyn Connors, storyteller Neil Thomas, composer Carl Polke, and drummer Michael Davis – all multiple award-winning entertainers, acrobats and occasional clowns in their own right.

‘An exquisite vulnerability’

‘The great thing with The Classics is that none of the performers has anything to lose,’ says Deb. ‘It creates this hilarious quality of us all putting ourselves out there with no fear or shame.

It’s an exquisite vulnerability, without anyone being awkward or shy – just the audience occasionally thinking: “Should they really be doing that?”

‘The other thing that people always say afterwards is: “I hope I’m still doing that kind of thing when I’m your age!”

Since she ‘retired’ as a gymnast, Deb has spent more than four decades performing and directing in Australian theatre, and says The Classics is a natural place for her to be now. ‘I still remember quitting gymnastics at 17 and thinking, “it’s all over, I’m too old to do anything else”. How funny is that!

‘These days, when younger people come to see The Classics, they all say: “Can I please come and join you when I’m 50?” If nothing else, we’ve at least helped to create longer career paths for other performers!’

Showtimes: The Classics: Quinquagenarian Circus

Friday 11 October – 7.30 pm

Saturday 12 October – 3.00 pm, 7.30 pm

Sunday 13 October – 3.00 pm

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