Pictured: Sarah Ward. Australia's Circus Oz returns to Berkeley October 7 - 10, 2010. PHOTO: Rob Blackburn
Pictured: Sarah Ward. Australia's Circus Oz returns to Berkeley October 7 - 10, 2010. PHOTO: Rob Blackburn

Rambunctious and happy-making, Circus Oz returns to Cal Performances’ Zellerbach Hall with an all new production Thursday–Saturday, October 7–10. The “you’ve got to see it to believe it” performance incorporates “steampunk”—a genre of science fiction based on pseudo-Victorian aesthetics, but set in an alternate reality where modern technology has developed—with off-kilter Aussie humor, death-defying feats, and original live music. Circus Oz combines a dozen longtime artists with cutting-edge new performers, allowing the troupe to reinvent itself year after year.

Circus Oz will give a SchoolTime performance for Bay Area students Friday, October 8 at 11:00 a.m. in Zellerbach Hall. Tickets available in advance only.

Currently headed up by artistic director Mike Finch and senior circus artist and founding member Tim Coldwel, Circus Oz was formed in 1978 when two smaller independent circuses, Soapbox Circus and the New Circus, merged. Circus Oz debuted that same year at the Adelaide Festival. By 1980, it had begun to tour internationally. The first tour traveled to Papua New Guinea, Holland, Belgium, London, Norwich, Bath, and Chichester. During the mid-1980s, Circus Oz trained with China’s Nanjing Acrobatic Troupe, building their repertoire and adding acrobatic skills, such as pole-climbing and hoop-diving, to the circus. Circus Oz has performed across five continents and in more than 26 countries, including spots as diverse as New York City, a refugee camp on the West Bank, indigenous communities in the Australian desert, and a glass opera house in the Brazilian rainforest. Performances have been shown in dozens of languages. Circus Oz has represented Australia at many other international festivals and broke the box office records at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

While there have been many different performers working with Circus Oz over the years, there are still founding members with the company today. The troupe’s philosophy of gender equality, collaboration, social justice, and a good time for all remains true. The new recruits for their 2010 season include foot juggler Hazel Bock, Australian acrobats Mason West and Rowan Heydon-White, musicians Ania Reynolds and Mec Matthews, and vocalist Sarah Ward. Rounding off the casts are popular Circus Oz regulars Luke Taylor, Jeremy Davies, Flip Kammerer, Paul O’Keeffe, Michael Ling, and musician Carl Polke. “[Circus Oz] overflows with great personalities, feels totally fresh and invigorated and its oddball elements unite unto a glorious whole, all the while presenting some of the highest physical skill levels ever seen.” (Herald Sun)

Tickets for Circus Oz on Thursday & Friday, October 7 & 8 at 8:00 p.m.; Saturday, October 9 at 2:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m.; and Sunday, October 10 at 3:00 p.m. in Zellerbach Hall are priced at $22.00, $30.00, $38.00, $46.00 and $52.00. The Saturday, October 9 matinee performance is a Family Fare event; ages 16 and under save 50% on single-ticket prices. Tickets are available through the Cal Performances Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall; at (510) 642-9988 to charge by phone; at www; and at the door. Half-price tickets are available for purchase by UC Berkeley students. UC faculty and staff, senior citizens, other students and UC Alumni Association members receive a $5 discount (Special Events excluded). For more information, call Cal Performances at (510) 642-9988 or visit the Cal Performances web site at www.

For select performances, Cal Performances offers UCB student, faculty and staff, senior and community rush tickets. Rush tickets are announced two hours prior to a performance and are available in person only at the Ticket Office beginning one hour before the performance; quantities may be limited. Rush ticket sales are limited to one ticket per person; all sales are cash only. Rush ticket prices are $10.00 for UCB students; $15.00 for UCB faculty and staff (UCB ID required) and seniors age 65 or older; and $20 for all other community members. Information is available at (510) 642-9988, press 2 for the rush hotline, two hours prior to a performance only.

Monica Turner
Contributor to Stark Insider for tech, the arts and All Things West Coast for over 10 years.