AWESOME CIRCUS AT FESTIVAL
THE circus is coming to town but don’t expect fearless fire eaters and leaping lions.
This heartfelt performance reveals the everyday chaos and beauty of a child with Asperger’s syndrome.
Brisbane teen Ethan Hugh takes centre stage in Kaleidoscope as six performers journey by his side offering guidance.
Diagnosed with the developmental disorder at four, Ethan believes Asperger’s is feared and misconstrued.
“It’s one of those syndromes where you can either misunderstand it or you can turn it into something really good,” the 14-year-old said.
“People normally think of the stress that’s involved with caring for somebody with Asperger’s but I think they should see it for its quirks and differences – something to be enjoyed rather than stressed over.”
The narrative of the circus comes from a book of short stories penned by Ethan’s mother, Joanna Wharton.
She began writing anecdotes when Ethan was young and one story quickly turned into many.
“Ethan was nine and wasn’t connecting anywhere and then suddenly he connected to circus,” Wharton said.
“I had this collection of stories that I’d written about him that as thanks I gave to his school and they fell into the hands of one of Australia’s best circus directors, Chelsea McGuffin, and she was inspired to then translate them on stage and use Ethan as himself.
“This is contemporary circus, it’s very lyrical and poetic: it tells a story through the various forms of circus and celebrates the fact we’re all unique and see things in different ways.”
Ethan said performing gave him a sense of freedom.
“A lot of the stuff in my life at the time I discovered circus was really strict and with circus I could just play around with learning things and at that time I needed something like that,” he said.
“It’s a little bit intimidating but when you’re on stage you don’t really think about it and I have a lot of fun. I’m hoping that after people watch this show they see Asperger’s in a different light, from a different point of view, and in a positive way.”
Ethan Hugh in Kaleidoscope.