It's fight night at the circus!
Season: 22. February – 16. August 2020
The makers of the legendary whiskey-soaked circus party SCOTCH & SODA return with their latest trick LE COUP. Cheer on the daredevil acrobats and musicians from Australia - you're invited to their boisterous fight night in the boxing ring!
Wild showmanship meets Neo-Vaudeville when the daring competitors of LE COUP present their skills: Hand-to-hand acrobatics, trapeze, straps, hair hanging, and juggling with bowling balls included. Featuring a ferocious live soundtrack by the bluegrass band Father Grant and The Blunt Objects and singer Mary Murderess, the artists fire each other up to the highest level of tricks. LE COUP is a tribute to old funfairs, the travelling folk, the showmen and acrobats who had to earn the favour of the audience and their merits. So get inspired by The Boss, Sally The Cat, The Ugly, Sister, Barry and The King, all of whom will step into the ring to take the win.
In LE COUP, sitting back is not an option, so don't forget to cheer on your favourite and loudly place your bets. Get ready for a squad that's got a trunkful of tricks.
Phoebe Armstrong Aerial Sling, Double Trapeze, Partner Acrobatics, Pole
Phoebe Armstrong began her circus journey at the age of six when she joined Spaghetti Circus, an Australian youth circus. In 2010, Phoebe took her love of circus to Europe where she became involved in the circus community in Edinburgh and later completed a two-year circus degree at Centre de les Arts del Circ Rogelio Rivel in Barcelona. In 2012 she formed the company Amnoticos with Toni Gutierrez, performing their duo trapeze act all over Europe and Australia. In perfecting their technical skills in this discipline, Toni and Phoebe undertook intensive courses in Brussels with Yuri Sakalov, based at the Ecole Superieur des Arts du Cirque. In 2014, Phoebe joined the internationally-renowned circus company Circa, touring all over the world in productions such as Opus, S, Carnival of the Animals and Wunderkammer, held at the CHAMÄLEON theatre in Berlin. Since leaving Circa, Phoebe has performed as a freelance artist and has joined Company 2 for their co-creation FALLOT. She has become a key ensemble member for the company working across a number of works as well as taking on administration duties.
Ellie Cox Bottle walking, Partner Acrobatics, Pole, Bass player, Pointe
Ellie Cox began her path tumbling towards the stage as a young gymnast with a love for flipping through the air at speed. Ellie discovered circus through Circa’s youth troupe Circa Zoo at the age of 13 where she utilised her gymnastic experience to climb and weave her way to great heights through the medium of Chinese pole, group acrobatics and creative movement. Ellie spent many years being part of creating and performing shows presented by Circa Zoo. This love for contemporary circus drove Ellie to seek new ways to push her acrobatic repertoire to new levels at NICA, The National Institute of Circus Arts based in Melbourne. In her time at NICA Ellie focussed on hand balancing and partner acrobatics. Ellie now takes pride in sharing her performances with as many people as she can and joined the ensemble of Company 2 in 2017 in the work Kaleidoscope.
Casey Douglas Hand-balancing, Pole, Partner Acrobatics, Plays Bells
Casey Douglas was born in Perth, Western Australia. Right from the beginning he was an active child playing all the sports possible, leading him to ten years as a competitive gymnast. After completing his degree at the National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA) he received a grant for a training project in Chattellaraut, France where he completed further studies with Handstand Professors from around the European Federation of Professional Circus Schools (FEDEC). On returning to Melbourne, Casey ran Hardy Street Productions, a Circus Training and Arts Centre before becoming a founding member of This Side Up Acrobatics. Through this Company he has performed at Chalon and Aullriac in France, London and the Edinburgh Fringe, Watch This Space and Galway International Art Festivals. This Side Up was also commissioned by the Sydney Festival to create Smoke and Mirror, which won Best New Australian Work, Best Cabaret Performer and Best New Score in the prestigious Helpmann Awards. Casey joined the Circa Ensemble in 2010, and toured extensively until 2016, being involved in many new creations including S, Opus and Wunderkammer. Most recently he has joined the ensemble of Company 2 in the work FALLOT.
Ben Harrison Musician
Ben Harrison is a Melbourne based multi-instrumentalist and composer. He specialises in trumpet and mandolin but also plays banjo, violin and guitar. He studied improvisation at the VCA and has performed all over the world with a variety of musical ensembles, including the Edinburgh Fringe with LE COUP and all throughout Japan with The Lagerphones. The variety of musical situations he involves himself with have helped him carve his own unique musical voice within the Melbourne music scene.
Marianna Joslin Hair-hanging, Tissu, Partner Acrobatics, MC
Marianna Joslin was born with a big personality and a broken heart. Twice, at six and thirteen years of age, open-heart surgery unleashed the energy to match her vivacious nature. Vulcana Women’s circus ignited her love of circus as a young adult. Marianna has since trained and performed with, and alongside, elite circus artists in Australia and abroad. Marianna launched her career as a founding member of the Ice Cream Factory collective, an innovative Australian circus hub, and performer for Hoopla Clique. Soon followed Twisted Hitch, a renowned acrobatic duo. Paving the way to her avant-garde one woman show, All Class. After which she was the principal artist for Robotronicia, a circus-robotics collaboration. Marianna then traveled to Berlin for Circa’s production of Wunderkammer at the CHAMÄLEON theatre. Since returning to Australia Marianna has been working principally with her partner Casey Douglas, 2016 highlights include collaborating on a documentary and production with This Side Up, performing for the hit show Yummy, the famed Brunswick Picture House, touring with Circus Quirkus and a sell-out season of the Sydney Opera House premiere production Funatorium: Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Famed as a pocket-sized hurricane on stage, Marianna specializes in aerial silks, trapeze, clown and as an acrobatic flyer. As a performer she believes art is the mirror that makes us human.
Grant Arthur Musician
Grant Arthur is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, composer, producer and circus performer based in Melbourne, Australia. Known for his versatility, you'll find Grant in a surprisingly diverse array of musical situations - from playing dixieland trombone with jazz masters, hard driving bluegrass banjo, funky New Orleans sousaphone to singing country folk - sometimes all in the same day! Having played with C.W. Stoneking, Christa Hughes, Freya Josephine Hollick, Geoff Bull, The Horns of Leroy and many others, Grant is a reliable and exciting sideman across an array of instruments. He also co-created and composed for many of his own projects including The Cope Street Parade, Collingwood Casanovas, King Arthur and many more. Grant was part of the original cast of circus show Limbo, and composed and arranged much of the show's musical accompaniment. He toured internationally with this show for three years, including London’s West End, Sydney Festival, The Ibero-American Theatre Festival of Bogota and Just For Laughs Montreal. Grant has also been an integral member of Ben Walsh’s Orchestra of the Underground productions The Arrival and Fearless Nadia since 2009 including seasons in London, Sao Paulo and Mumbai.
Maria Moles Musician
Maria Moles is a drummer based in Melbourne, Australia. Since completing a Bachelor of Music Performance at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2013, she has dedicated her time to performing extensively throughout Melbourne and Australia with some of Australia's most renowned artists. As an improviser, she has performed with The Australian Art Orchestra, Anthony Pateras, Jim Denley, Speak Percussion, Lucas Abela, Robbie Aveneim, Jon Rose, Jenny Barnes, Krakatau, Hammers Lake, Rohan Drape, James Rushford, and the Hobart Improvisers Collective. Maria has also been the drummer for award-winning Melbourne bands Mildlife, Jess Ribeiro, Francis Plagne, and Horatio Luna, as well as working as a session drummer for Harry Angus, Sui Zhen, and Jess Cornelius. She is currently the drummer for Jaala, On Diamond, and Doroth. Maria's debut EP Mondo Flockard was released in 2016 through Perth label Tonelist, and was listed on Avant Music News under Best Albums of the Year 2016. In her short time performing solo, Maria has supported Clever Austin (Hiatus Kaiyote), Chris Corsano (Bjork, Thurston Moore, Evan Parker), and Oren Ambarchi, and has performed an improvised score to Ben Christensen's 1922 silent film at Dark Mofo Festival 2017. Maria's solo LP Opening will be released in January 2020.
Alex Weckes-Huck Solo Trapeze, Double Trapeze, Partner Acrobatics
From a young age Alex had a passion for climbing trees, door frames, lamp posts and anything that posed a challenge. At the age of 11 this was put to good use when he began participating in youth circus classes with Flipside Circus, learning to channel those energetic leaps and twitches into an art form. Alex performed with Flipside’s youth Performance Troupe for 6 years, and in his later years there began to create independent solo and ensemble work. After Flipside, Alex travelled overseas to experience the world beyond Australian circus. In this time abroad when he wasn’t playing the sightseeing tourist, Alex was creating a show with fellow acrobats and learning new skills and techniques along the way. Most recently Alex trained at the National Institute of Circus Arts in Melbourne, where he furthered his specialist skills in trapeze and partner acrobatics. Alex joined the ensemble of Company 2 in 2017.
David Trappes Juggling, Partner Akrobatics, Head Trapeze, Instruments
David Trappes fell in love with the circus from a young age, growing up in youth performance troupe of Flipside Circus, who are based in Brisbane. His creativity took to it like a fish in water which inspired him to travel overseas and continue his training. He has worked for leading companies such as Circus Oz, Casus as well as created solo works and independent productions. He spends most of his circus life lifting moving heavy objects like people and bowling balls but also enjoys standing on his head and playing music. David joined the Company2 ensemble for Wunderage, a Company2 and Circus Oz tightwire collaboration. He then joined the Le Coup ensemble and is thrilled to be working with such a great bunch of people.
Born with another name that has long been forgotten, Sister was found left behind in the seating bank after a show. When the tiny bundle was unwrapped, two faces could be seen smiling back. Despite being intended to be the star attraction of the freak show, the sisters preferred to spend their time learning to fight from the others and could soon hold their own. The two shared a very special bond, but as they grew older, they realised they wanted different things. They soon decided they would be better off going their own way, but the weaker of the two died in the process. The loss of her sister changed her, and Sister now keeps her distance from the others. She’s quiet and lurks in the shadows, always watching so she knows exactly how to beat her opponent, but if you catch her in the right light, you can still see the feint scar that runs down her side, where her other half was taken from her.
The King Fighter
King, seventh generation tent brawler, has reigned as champion of the ring for as long as he can remember, though his memory is fading from all those bowling balls to the skull. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, even if he made it himself from an old tin of baked beans. No one is sure why he is king, he doesn’t even fight, only scares other fighters away with feats of strength so no one dares to challenge him.
Sally the Alley Cat Fighter
She’s a wild stray that has found her way into the boxing ring as a babe. Survival has meant she’s tough and knows how to put on a good fight. She’s travelled the world seeing the best, worst and ugliest of it all. ‘Don’t mess with Sally’ is her motto and not much can knock her down. She’s the apple of everyone’s eye. The golden girl. But it’s all an act. Her toughness belies a hidden softness she cannot show to the world. In the end her vulnerability is her greatest strength just waiting to be discovered.
Working in the red dirt of Australia, Ugly earnt his name one night after leaning in too closely to a campfire and catching his moustache alight. In an effort to help, his comrade extinguished the blaze with one swift swing of a shovel, leaving him with a face only a mother could love. He was left wandering the streets with few other memories and quickly gained a reputation as a fighter in Pub brawls. No one really knows how he found his way from there to be among the battlers and brawlers that are Le Coup. He has always been a terrible fighter but refuses to go down. Despite his brutish exterior, all Ugly really wants is the chance to connect with someone who will love what’s inside. But he is constantly scaring people away with his musical mishaps and forever flurrying tongue.
I’m Barry the builder. I build, I fight, I use my hands. I am a teddy bear, I like bears, I like lace gloves but in the ring I will take you down, man, woman anything other. That OK with you? If not bad luck. You’ll be chanting my name in no time ‘Barry, Barry’. You want to have a go? You want to fight? Then ring my bell!
Father Grant Musical ringmaster
Oh, Father Grant. The musical genius and blessed one of our ring. He brings holy to this world. Keeping things fair, honest and shares his truths of flat worlds, small cars and gluten free living through voice and rhythm. No one knows his background, no one dare ask. He has been at this tent longer than anyone else and the question to be asked is who is he really father to?
Mary the Murderess Muse
Adopted by Australian farmers, Mary murdered most of her seven brothers, sparing just two. Begrudgingly, they formed a family band together with Bookie Benny and Father Grant. With an angelic voice, Mary lures her victims into a false sense of serenity and hypnotizes them with her charm. Mary desires to love and be loved but has a tendency to get overcome by emotions. Just as things start to blossom in her relationships. Mary is consumed with rage and ends things the only way she knows how. Somehow Murderess Mary has found a home amongst this eclectic crew at Le Coup, but things are starting to heat up between her and Ugly. Will he be next?
The Bookie Fighter
Fancy yourself a gambler? Like a little bit of calculated risk? Then the Bookie is for you! A real double or nothing kind of guy, he makes every moment into a betting opportunity. As the hoards slide him notes, the Bookie effortlessly catalogues contributions, so when the time comes, he can either pay you out handsomely, or... you get the idea. Don't be afraid to shout for him, or throw money at him, or do anything that your instincts tell you to do to him, because when he takes a hold of the room, he will whip them into a primal frenzy of excitement! So, do you research, place some wise (and not so wise) bets, and get them to the bookie so he can make your dreams come true.
The Boss Fighter
A 12th Generation hustler, she'll give you a show and steal your dough. After failing to make it in Vegas, she journeyed deep into outback Australia and scratched together this band of brawlers. Even her smile packs a punch. This woman's been to more places than you've had breaths. With hair of steel and eyes on the reel, she's a one woman freight-train. "C'mon down to my tent honey, It's fight night at the circus and you’re in for a wild ride".
About the Creative Team
Presented by: Circus Oz
Lighting and Set Design: Fraser Martin
Sound Design: Katie Sweeney
With special thanks to Mik LaVage for the original sound design.
Chelsea McGuffin trained as a dancer at the Centre for the Performing Arts in Adelaide, before switching her interests to circus. She has worked extensively in the circus industry with both professional companies and community projects. That work includes: Circus Monoxide, Tony’s Imaginary Circus, and Artistic Director for Vulcana Women’s Circus, Queensland Theatre Company, and from 2000 – 2008 with Circa Contemporary Circus, where she was the Associate Director. Chelsea was then the Creative Producer at Flipside Youth Circus for three years where she created a number of highly successful productions and programs for young artist’s ages 8 months – 26 years. Together with her group Company 2 she strives to create work which engages its audiences and pushes the art form to new places. Some career highlights have been seasons at La Tohu Montreal, Bogotá International Arts festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, The Opera House, Sydney international Festival, and other venues in Belgium, France, Germany, Canada, UK, Hungary, Romania. Chelsea also co-directed WUNDERAGE with Rob Tannon and Circus Oz, and her solo performances include Regarding the Joy of Othersfor the 2009 Brisbane Festival and Smoke and Mirrors in 2010 at Sydney Festival. LE COUP premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2019. The season at the CHAMÄLEON Theater Berlin takes place in cooperation with Circus Oz.
In the press
“A gloriously (mock) gory night out – a raucous rollercoaster ride through vaudeville’s darker histories ”