Crank it up with Circus Oz: Mark Sheppard

As it finally gets cold in Melbourne, it’s time to love wearing layers, slurp endless bowls of hot and sour soup and look forward to a night of hot doughnuts and the best circus in the world as Circus Oz pitch their big top in Birrarung Marr.

Last year Circus Oz premiered From the Ground Up in Melbourne. We loved it, as did regional Australia and North America. New York loved the show so much that we’re lucky they didn’t stay.

But it would be impossible for Circus Oz to not open a new show in their home town and Cranked Up runs from 19 June to 14 July.

Cranked Up was From the Ground Up, but after a year of touring it’s been tightened, loosened, road-hardened and hurled to new heights.

Mark Sheppard is new to the Circus Oz family and leaps and dances his way into Cranked Up as the roving Indigenous provocateur.

Mark’s from Mareeba, in far North Queensland, with ancestry in Muluridgi and Mbarbarum tribes. He moved to Perth in 1996 to study at the Aboriginal Music Theatre Program and spent 1997 to 200 at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.

Since then he’s worked for many Indigenous theatre companies and run workshops in theatre and dance with community organisations in and around Queensland. He’s also enjoyed a long-term working relationship with deBASE Productions who produced his show Chasing the Lollyman, a comedy looking at urban Aboriginal identity, that’s toured extensively.

He has a quick chat with Anne-Marie Peard and you can win a double pass to the show on Friday 21 June.

Mark Shepherd, Circus Oz 2013
Mark Shepherd, Circus Oz 2013

What three words best describe your show?
Totally Cranked Up.

What do you love most about this show?
The diversity of each individual performer and their skills.

What do you love about working with Circus Oz?
The freedom to create from anything you can imagine, and bringing it to life on the floor. And the lovely, amazing, inspiring and generous people. All are beautiful from the inside out.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced preparing for this show?
Myself: pushing myself past my comfort zone and exploring themes and ideas that only ever existed in my wildest imagination.

What was your reaction when you discovered the concept for the show?
Huh?, and then Bring it on!

Who would you love to see in the audience one night?
Ricky Martin, Delta Goodrem, Joel Madden and Seal.

When did you know you wanted to be in the circus?
I’ve imagined running away to join the circus from when I was young. But it wasn’t until the BLAKflip Masterclass in 2012 that opened my eyes to the possibility that I CAN.

Do you believe in any circus superstitions? What are they?
Never say “Good luck” or “Break a leg”.

What’s some great circus advice you’ve used? Who was it from?
KISS (keep it simple stupid), courtesy of Jez Davies.

What punishment is fit for audience members who don’t turn their phones off during a performance?
Roving spotlights to find the offender and for them to complete the call onstage.

What circus act do you really want to play one day?
I would love to be able to do every act, especially the trapeze, if only I didn’t have a fear of heights.

Which industry person has taught you the most?
Nick Enright. He taught me how to be true to myself.

In your wildest dreams, who would you love to work with on a show?
Kai Johnson-Peady.

Convince a stubborn suburbanite to come into the city for the show.
C’mon you mob, moob ur din n come por laugh!

Cranked Up
Melbourne from 19 June to 14 July

Then it heads to Perth, Geraldton, Port Lincoln, Port Pirie, Whyalla, Norlunga, Renmark and Mount Gambier.

Details here.

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

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