Aardman Animations Ltd., the award-winning UK studio, has partnered with Circa Contemporary Circus to create a new circus-theatre production featuring the much-loved character.
Aardman Animations has worked with Circa Contemporary Circus, a leading performance company, to create Shaun the Sheep’s Circus Show. This will make its debut in March 2021 in Brisbane, at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre.
Making the announcement, Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said: “Thanks to the way Queenslanders have managed the coronavirus pandemic, we’re now able to return to the theatre. Today’s announcement is a great win for Queensland, not only for our arts community but also for our economy as we continue to rebuild from the pandemic.
A family favourite hits the circus stage
“Shaun the Sheep is a global phenomenon,” said Palaszczuk. “It’s great to see Circa—one of the state’s most successful performance companies—premiere this show here in Queensland. The arts industry employs thousands of people throughout the state. World-class productions like this will help this sector to recover from the impact of COVID-19.”
Minister for the Arts, Leeanne Enoch, added that the show would appeal to all ages: “Shaun the Sheep is a family favourite throughout the world and to have this production here is a fantastic win for Queensland. The arts, cultural and creative sector plays a crucial role in our COVID-19 recovery, bringing our communities back together and supporting jobs for artists and arts workers.
“That’s why the Palaszczuk Government is implementing nearly $60 million worth of measures to support the sector through the impacts of COVID-19 including the $22.5 million Arts and Cultural Recovery Package.
“The Palaszczuk Government will continue to invest in arts and cultural projects to support Queensland’s social and economic recovery.”
This new production has been made possible due to support from the local government in a three-way partnership, with investment from Screen Queensland, Arts Queensland funding via the Queensland Arts Showcase Program and QPAC as the Presenting Partner. It is also being supported by the Federal Government’s Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (Rise) fund.
Trevor Evans MP, Federal Member for Brisbane, said “Circa’s Shaun the Sheep’s Circus Show will continue to build Brisbane’s reputation as one of the world’s significant circus cities and I’m very pleased the Morrison Government has lent its support to this new family-focused production. There is no better place for the world premiere to occur than right here in Brisbane.
“The Federal Government’s RISE Fund is targeted at supporting the reactivation of the arts and entertainment sector which has been hard hit by the pandemic and Circa is leading the way for performing arts organisations.”
A new world for Shaun the Sheep
Circa was formed in Brisbane in 2004 and has toured in 40 countries, performing to more than 1.5 million people. Its work has proved popular with audiences, and it often sells out venues across six continents.
Aardman’s Shaun the Sheep character has charmed audiences around the globe, with people in 170 territories enjoying the antics of the famous sheep and his farmyard friends. He has already appeared in two successful feature films, a half-hour special and more than 170 television episodes. There is also a second half-hour special in production, expected to be released in winter 2021.
Director Yaron Lifschitz and the Circa Ensemble have worked to capture the sophisticated and challenging elements of Circa’s physicality while also communicating the fun and playfulness found Shaun the Sheep’s world. In addition to this, Scenic Designer Dan Potra and Costume Designer Libby McDonnell have created a unique world that blends together the dimensions of animation, stage, film and live acrobatics.
Combining theatre and live performance
The show will be suitable for the whole family, entertaining all ages with Aardman’s signature animation and Circa’s live performance, blurring the lines between movement, dance, theatre and circus.
“Shaun the Sheep is a playful, rambunctious feast of humour, good spirits and the triumph of the little guy,” says Lifschitz. “The medium of circus is a perfect vehicle for bringing these qualities to the stage.
“Melding the worlds of stage and screen, and incorporating the extreme physicality of circus without losing the emotional depth and charm of the original, is a major creative challenge—it’s the sort of thing we at Circa thrive on.”
Circa’s Chair, Michael Lynch AO CBE added: “This ambitious new creation is made possible with partners including Screen Queensland and QPAC and through the incredible support from the Federal Arts Ministry and Arts Queensland.”
Ngaio Harding-Hill, Head of Attractions and Live Experiences at Aardman, said: “We have always had an ambition to create a Shaun the Sheep circus show. The physicality of circus performance marries perfectly with the slapstick traditions, thrills and humour of the brand.
“Circa’s creative vision made them the perfect partner to create a Shaun the Sheep circus show for global audiences. Shaun is already very at home in Australia, so we are thrilled to premiere the show at QPAC.”
Last week, Aardman Animation also announced that it will be working with video game developer and publisher BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Europe to develop a brand new IP.