Hidden away in a West End warehouse, a group of local circus performers have created a dynamic space where they can hone their craft and share it with the wider community.
They call themselves The Ice Cream Factory, a nod to the former incarnation of the building they call home. The Factory is made up of a core group of six performers: Cody Freeman, Julian Roberts, Mali de Goey, Marianna Joslin, Chelle Hafner and George Le Couteur. They each have diverse skills in areas like acrobatics, balloon art, clowning and trapeze. “We each have shows or characters we’ve developed that we try and sell to pay the bills,” explains Cody. “We all do stuff for corporate gigs and festivals and markets and whatever. We do stuff independently and we all do stuff together as a group as well.”
The group has poured their time, energy, love and money into making The Ice Cream Factory what it is and have been assisted by many other artists, musicians, fellow performers and the like who also get involved. “A big extended family”, as Cody describes them. “There’s actually nothing else like it in Brisbane,” says Mali de Goey. “Like there’s clubs, and there’s theatres, and there’s festivals and all that kind of stuff, but this is … it’s like, gathering people, and just the energy that’s created is really cool … it’s not like we’re making any money out of it. It just comes together because of a lot of energy of people to come and put in to make it happen, which I think is rare these days,” Says Mali de Goey.
On a day-to-day basis the space acts as a training centre for circus professionals, of which there is a small but highly skilled and dynamic community in Brisbane. Or if it is in the weeks leading up to one of their monthly in-house shows, the team will be cleaning, building stages, setting up lights, working on decorations and so on. The shows are elaborate, themed spectaculars featuring a whole range of circus performances topped off with live music. They have hosted local bands like Dubmarine, Laneous and the Family Yah and The Mouldy Lovers, as well as bigger acts like The Bird and even international names like Chali 2na. “We transform the whole space into the theme of whatever the event is called,” says Cody. “We put a lot of effort in, so we don’t do them very often,” he says. The shows have built up a loyal following and despite very little advertising, every one so far has sold out. Marianna says it is a great way for them to regularly showcase what they do.
“I think greater Brisbane doesn’t understand how artistically active this city is. That’s a wonderful part of being a part of something like this, you know, this is happening every month not just once a year. We’re not a sleepy city,” she says.
“I think it inspires people,” Cody adds. “Everyone that comes and sees a show here has left completely mind blown … like, ‘how did I not know that that was going on?’”
Words by Leah Carri | Images by Darlia Argyris