I approached Flipside Circus in 2017 with an idea I had for a show for a young audience – on the difficult subject of exclusion. I translated humans into dog-children: insiders and outsiders, pack dynamics, what happens when one dog is excluded from the pack… but this work needed to be funny and endearing. And it needed to be able to address complex issues in recognisable situations and worlds and in a language that offered the possibility of metaphor to 7 year olds.
So, this is a script for a new participatory circus/ physical theatre performance for (and with) primary school-aged children – The Dogs in the Schoolyard (aka ‘The Dogs’).
The work explores themes of inclusivity, friendship, bullying and exclusion, through the lens of a young dog’s experience with other pups, human authority, and her environment. ‘The Dogs’ plays with physicality, music, dialogue, and humour. Its message is hopeful, valuing inclusivity and encouraging resilience.’
We’ve done an initial playing workshop with Year 2 students from West End Primary School, and had subsequent Creative Sparks funding for an exploration of the ideas, refining themes and establishing the language of the piece, really. We’re about to go into an in-depth creative development at the Judith Wright Centre – for which I will write my first story-book! The source material.
So – from the grant application: “The dogs will act as storytellers and cyphers allowing children and young people free reign to pursue difficult topics and ideas. Dogs’ highly expressive physical language is a natural fit for circus and provides multiple access points for young audiences to engage and empathise. Dogs also provide the performers with unbounded opportunities for play and engagement.” They surely do.