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Circus in a Tea Cup

An Ongoing and Evolving Program of Transformation Supporting Survivors of Domestic Violence

This program of performance making processes leading to theatre seasons started in 2005 in partnership with Brisbane Domestic Violence Advocacy Service, with a 6- month process bringing survivors of domestic abuse and their support workers together to share an experience of discovery and healing. It was presented to a closed audience made up of members of the support sector in the Visy Theatre at Brisbane Powerhouse.

This highly successful and impactful project was commissioned again by Micah Projects, now umbrellaing the Brisbane Domestic Violence Service, in 2021. It was supported by Arts Queensland, and a new partnership with Queensland Performing Arts Centre, with the aim to continue to program this project as part of their contribution to 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence.

This powerful work draws on Vulcana’s extensive experience in creating transformative works of physical performance. Audiences witnessed an exquisitely beautiful contemporary circus performance, in which Vulcana Circus ensemble members collaborated with survivors of gender-based abuse to tell true stories of recovery, resilience and triumph.

The Circus in a Tea Cup program creates a different kind of emancipation in real time. It creates true stories about picking up the pieces and learning to fly high.

2024 Project

in 2024 Circus in a Tea Cup will return to give space to a new ensemble of survivors of gender based violence. Building on successes and learnings of past years Circus in a Tea Cup 2024 aims to once again be a vessel for positive transformation.

Information sessions for potential participants will be held at the Vulcan Arts Hub and at partner organisations from June.

Meetings and rehearsals will run weekly from September, with a public performance held at the Cremorne Theatre, QPAC in late December as part of QPAC’s contribution to 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence.

Vulcana is currently fundraising for Circus in a Tea Cup 2024. Donations over $2 are tax deductible and go directly to assisting survivors of domestic abuse.

2021 Project

In 2021 Circus in a Tea Cup ran as a four month long project in which 11 survivors of gender based violence attended weekly sessions at Vulcana. Learning, training and rehearsing together these women shared their stories of truth, hurt and resilience. Brought together by co-directors Celia White and Michelle Grant-Iramu the project culminated in a performance held at the Cremorne Theatre, QPAC from the 16th-18th of December.

Celia White & Michelle Grant-Iramu

Anja Kapelski, Liz John, Tess Raby, Kiki Devgun, Maddie Henaway, Claudia Baxter, Sarah Murphy, Crystal Kowald, Sally Walker, Colleen Odendahl, Grace Law, Chloe Callistemon, Ash Jones, Natalie Lazaroo

Ensemble member: Louise de la Haye
Child care: Pei Ying Chen
Videographer: Paris Owen
Costume design: Lil Crump
Lighting designer: Sarah O’Neill
Circus rigger: Helen Clifford
Production Manager: Abbey Church
Stage Assistants: Mayu Muto & Elyse Fitzpatrick
Graphic design: Grace Law
Headshots & photos in hero image: Chloe Callistemon
Production images: Jade Ellis
Rehearsal images: Nadia Jade

2021 Directors’ Notes

Circus in a Tea Cup has been a 4-month journey of collaboration and creation for our ensemble members and theatre makers. The sharing and learning of circus and movement skills has been a powerful connector for the performers from the Vulcana circus community and the performers who bring their own truths as survivors of domestic violence. 

The work is situated in a domestic setting – a site that evokes familiarity and one that is overlayed by societal narratives of safety, security and trust. Yet this has always been a contested space where the experiences of women defy these understandings.  

The motifs and images that appear throughout this performance importantly remind us of the duplicity of these spaces while also harnessing our power to change the story. Domestic objects that resonate with past stories are disrupted and reinvented, transformed on the performers’ own terms through the surreal and extraordinary nature of circus.

The ensemble has had the courage to be vulnerable and invite you in to witness the small objects in their lives that provide meaning and facilitate strength. The intimacy of these personal moments intersects with the collective nature of this work – where creating space for shared understanding is also about sharing the weight of collective action. We are all complicit.

It has been a privilege to work with these performers, to face together the challenge of integrating their skills with their stories of strength and survival, and to watch the ensemble emerge.

Michelle Grant-Iramu and Celia White

In 2021 Circus in a Tea Cup was supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland
and through Brisbane Domestic Violence Service – Micah Projects.

Brisbane Domestic Violence Service

Brisbane Domestic Violence Service – Micah Projects are proud to be involved in the Circus in a Tea Cup performance events. The Brisbane Domestic Violence Service (BDVS) is a free and confidential specialist service supporting people experiencing domestic and family violence 24/7, 365 days a year.

The services we provide vary depending on the situation, but our mission is always the same: to support you to reach a stage where you are safe, and free from fear of domestic and family violence.

We provide a range of specialist domestic violence services including information, risk assessment, referral, crisis support, safety planning, groups, men’s programs, practical assistance, support for children, advocacy, and emotional support. 

We care about your safety and will communicate with you to assess the best way for you to access our services–over the phone, on-line or face-to-face at a nominated safe place.

Because domestic and family violence doesn’t keep standard office hours, neither do we. We’re here to help – 24/7.