Clowning around serious business for Safety Circus

Published:28 February 2018

TOP: CQUni CQCM Bachelor of Theatre students (back row from left) Samantha Attard, Tomer Dimanstein, Sarah Dunn, Connor Scoble, (front) Mikaela Small and Jackson Wecker are performing the 'Safety Circus' production at 45 schools across our region over the next couple of weeks. BELOW: Sergeant Nigel Dalton plays an active role in the production conveying safety messages to Year 3 students.

Roll up! Roll up! Roll up! The circus is in town; but wait, it’s not quite the performance we’re used to.

For the past six years, CQUniversity’s Central Queensland Conservatorium of Music (CQCM) students have donned clown wigs and constructed a mini big top to stage Safety Circus.

This unique performance – an educational collaboration between Mackay Police and CQUniversity – conveys safety messages to Year 3 students on protective behaviours, bicycle road rules and ways to handle bullying.

Sergeant Nigel Dalton from the Mackay Crime Prevention Unit has been actively involved with the production from the beginning and says the fun and interactive approach is part of the show’s success.

“The bright and colourful characters depict bystander behaviour and what to do when they are feeling upset when problems like bullying occur,” Sgt Dalton said.

“We want children to understand that nothing is ever too awful to speak to someone about, and that they always have the right to feel safe.”

The Safety Circus script was originally written by CQUniversity CQCM student Hannah Barn in 2013 and continues to have an impact on its young audience.

This year, Associate Lecturer Creative Arts – Head of Discipline Acting, Karen Crone, is directing the show and the music has been arranged by CQCM Director, Professor Judith Brown.

Karen has been a key figure in Australian theatre, film and television for over 30 years and says Safety Circus provides an opportunity for the Bachelor of Theatre students to refine their theatrical skills.

“Performing for young audiences has challenged and taught our students to sustain energy and focus; along with building their understanding of comic timing, ensemble work, maintaining character traits and quick changes,” Karen explained.

“Our schedule involves two or three performances a day which is building their core strength and endurance, especially in our extreme heat conditions.”

Karen said dealing with real-life issues has also taught Theatre students the importance of conveying messages.

“A scene between our main character Jessie and Monty the Magician highlights the need for all of us, particularly our young, to trust instincts and follow our feelings; saying ‘no’ is not the end of the world,” she said.

Over the next two weeks, Safety Circus will be presented to 45 primary schools region-wide.

Safety Circus is a collaboration between CQUniversity’s CQCM and the Mackay Crime Prevention Unit of the Queensland Police Service with funding from Mackay Regional Council (through its Sports and Recreation program and the Regional Arts Development Fund).