Night Writes is joined by performer Lara Croydon to discuss the Sydney debut of Chasing Smoke.
What compelled your involvement with Chasing Smoke?
It is a rare opportunity that you get to come from a social circus program and make a show. Particularly make a show with a renowned circus performer and director like Natano [Fa’anana]. I knew I would learn a lot just from being in the room with him. The experience was unforgettable.
By combining aerial, dance, sketch comedy, and floor work, how do the different aspects of Chasing Smoke speak to and interact with each other?
It’s strange because the different mediums don’t seem to be separate to me. We all came to the process with different skills and specialties but with the same purpose; to tell the story of us and our people.
How has the show developed since its original production in 2017?
We have changed so much in the last two years. We have gained new skills and new specialties which we have added in. The show improves with us.
How does it feel to bring the show to Sydney for the first time?
It’s really great to bring the complete show to Sydney! We love new audiences and bringing the show to new places!
Chasing Smoke is about celebrating identity and culture and will serendipitously be performed during NAIDOC Week. How do the two events inform each other?
As Aboriginal people we celebrate our culture every day. NAIDOC is a time that our communities gather on a large scale. It is great to have our show playing at a time that the wider Australian community feels they can celebrate with us.
How have your personal experiences influenced your process with the show?
As our director likes to say, “we couldn’t have made this show without these performers”. Our personal stories are intertwined with this show. We tell stories of our family, our identity, our history, our culture, our connection. And no one else can speak our story but us.
Have you encountered any challenges with this show? What were your successes?
A few injuries here and there but that is part of being a physical performer! We love schools shows! It is a great energy to have in the space and you can really see the young Indigenous kids connect with it.
What do you hope audiences will take away from your performance?
We want audiences talking. We want them to have learnt something about Aboriginal people and have more questions they want answered. To not be afraid to ask questions, and to go out and learn more about the first people of this country.
Director Natano Fa’anana says, “Chasing Smoke is not just a show, it’s also a gateway or conduit for any up and coming artists who might want to do this too… We welcome them all.” How are you inviting artists to get involved?
We always invite young Indigenous dancers, artists, and students into our rehearsal space. We hope it gives them a taste of where their career could go. If we could run away with the circus, so can they!
How does Chasing Smoke fit into or relate with the wider Australian performance scene?
Chasing Smoke is the first of its kind. We are Australia’s first all Indigenous contemporary circus show! You definitely won’t have seen anything like this before.
What’s coming up next for Casus and your individual projects?
We have two shows heading into premier festival season! DNA is heading to Edinburgh Fringe Festival and You & I is heading to Brisbane!
Chasing Smoke is running from July 9th – 13th as part of Bondi Feast. For more information and to get tickets, please visit the Bondi Feast website.