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Reimagining circus – Rear Vision

A new spin on drive-in cinema with Vulcana’s performance of Rear Vision.



With the impact of Queensland’s COVID19 social restrictions in 2020, Queensland-based circus group Vulcana reimagined circus performance, developing a safe and creative experience for Queenslanders.

Rear Vision, a drive-in circus, was installed in the open-air car park at the company’s new venue in Morningside. Directed by Vulcana Artistic Director Celia White, the production drew on common themes experienced across the community due to COVID during 2020- chaos, cleanliness, lack of control, anxiety, fire, joy, loneliness, wilderness and empathy.

Vulcana invited audiences to drive in to the unique performance site, a large open carpark. Staying in the safety of their cars, audience members were part of the Rear Vision experience with car lights choreographed and with sound linked directly through their phones into their private car spaces.

Rear Vision received positive reviews with one audience members exclaiming - It was the show the end of this dramatic year needed.


When and where

October 2020 to January 2021, Brisbane

Performers from Vulcana on scaffold during performance of Rear Vision


Key stats

  • 12 Queensland artists employed including a sound designer and a poet
  • 28 participants
  • 360 attendees


Arts Queensland investment 

$22,022 supported through Open Air

The Open Air program supports the activation of outdoor and non-traditional settings and the production and delivery of a program of works by artists and arts organisations in these spaces.

Open Air is part of the $22.5 million two-year Arts and Cultural Recovery Package, focused on stabilising Queensland’s arts companies, securing jobs for artists and arts workers, and delivering COVID-safe cultural experiences to Queensland audiences. 



  • Produced a new live performance: Vulcana developed and produced a new live performance, employing 12 Queensland artists (emerging and established), working alongside 13 new performers from the Vulcana community, and engaging Queensland audiences.
  • Delivered an innovative and safe live performance: Vulcana delivered the live and engaging performance whilst adhering to social restriction. 
  • Increased demand for Vulcana’s workshops and other services: As a result of presenting Rear Vision, Vulcana experienced a sharp increase in workshop attendance for all parts of their workshop program – Vulcademy for adults and Vulcana Youth for 5 – 17 year-olds. Vulcana also attracted new artists to their residency program, including Igneous, increased participation in their Open Training offerings and received new venue hire bookings.
  • Established new partnerships: Vulcana established a number of new partnerships across the development of the new work with other artists and arts organisations. Rear Vision also presented the first opportunity for Vulcana to work with new neighbours Queensland State Hockey.


Single performer hanging upside down from scaffold during Rear Vision performance


Learnings and reflections

Vulcana found the use of an outdoor, non-traditional space for the performance added to the performance and provided new ways to interact with the audiences.

The effect of having audience in their cars and witnessing this expansive set, space and cast beyond their windscreens lent a strange and hauntingly beautiful aspect to the whole event. Being outside, in the dark, against the impending storms and surrounded by trees made it feel awesome and inspiring for performers. The experience for the audience was unique, exciting and hugely rewarding.

Having this expansive area of asphalt created a unique performance space to fill with images and large numbers of performers, or inhabit with just one lonely and isolated body. Performing in the round, between the cars, peering into windows, provided new ways to interact with an audience encased in their cars. 


The series of diverse creative developments allowed for more input from different groups into the development of Rear Vision.

In making Rear Vision we used a structure of diverse creative developments, working with class groups of students to create work; working with emerging and new performers to construct ensemble work and create connecting pieces; and working with professional performers to contribute to ensemble pieces and create distinct pieces to sit within the work. 

Each group required a different way of working and connecting and we constructed ways for these groups to come together regularly to impact each other’s developments. The feedback from participating artists was that this format spread the load of the creative work having different levels of input. Wonderful alignments of developing material emerged between all the groups helping to create the flow necessary to turn this process into a single work of circus theatre. 

Experimentation with equipment and technology in the new space was necessary.

Following from our previous experience with technology to assist the delivery of sound in a unique way, we found, with the help of sound designer Anna Whitaker, a way of delivering sound directly into audience members cars using a free, user friendly app that could be connected to car audio systems – Listen To Live, delivered by Audiomovers.

It was decided with our poet, Angela Pieta, to use live and amplified voice rather than pre-recorded voice to allow for the connection to live performance. This created a discrepancy between the amplified voice and sound coming through the app that wasn’t so successful until Anna found a solution. But it was an experiment worth having and will build to further experiments with technology to enhance aspects of live performance. 



We LOVED Vulcana's Rear Vision Circus - like its performers, it was a thing of beauty, sensitive, joyful, breathtaking and of strong mind and body! Thank you. - Audience member

Seeing the whole troupe of Vulcana women up on the aerial rig was breath-taking. I loved the audience participation of headlight flashing, clapping and honking of horns. Well done! – Audience member

A surreal reflection on a surreal Year. Thanks for all the effort Vulcana in pulling together a high flying show. The show and unusual stage was well organised. Loved the venue and the concept. cutting edge as always. – Audience member

It was the show the end of this dramatic year needed - Audience member.



Tips for others

Creating work under entirely new circumstances it was very useful to have a range of experience in devising and performing in the performance ensemble.  The pressure of generating a successful performance in a relatively short timeframe could be shared, and inspiration across different levels of experience was also helpful. 

Using class groups to generate performance potentially put an extra strain on classes but having a performance outcome to work towards pushed each group to explore their skills in new creative ways that might not be possible within a usual class structure.

Working with a sound designer so willing to research solutions to our technological challenge was wonderful. She is also so skilled in taking the bare seed of a physical idea and creating a sound score that magically fits the work that has developed from that seed while she was away from rehearsals, and that allows the physical imagery to expand within her soundscape. Working with a circus rigger so experienced at creating seemingly simple solutions for achieving aerial imagery was vital to achieving the look and feel of the piece. Her knowledge of circus and the needs of the community ensured that all levels of experience were attended to with calmness, clarity and ultimately, safety.

Solving the issue of getting power to a very large unpowered site was tricky. Finding a generator quiet enough and powerful enough to support lighting and sound requirements was a delicate balance. Having access to vans to act as bio box and generator storage was very helpful.

Having access to plenty of volunteers to help set up such an undertaking and to manage cars, audiences, and a very large cast was invaluable. And working with a cast willing to assist with daily set up and bump out, rain plans, rigging assistance, and prop and costume management was critical.

Don’t use spray chalk marker on asphalt because it isn’t as impermanent as you might assume!


What next?

Vulcana is continuing to explore using different and non-traditional sites for performances.

The company’s performance Over the Back Fence, presented in April 2021, occurred across a range of local sites in the Morningside area, from Vulcana’s home venue, to the community garden, a local brewery, and a laundromat.

Find out more

Vulcana Circus website

Rear Vision webpage

Rear Vision video