Force of Circumstance Collective, Queensland’s first intentional professional theatre collective, consists of a core of dedicated artists who create contemporary performances and workshops focusing on what it means to belong in our postmodern world. FOCC is possibly the only professional intergenerational theatre company in Australia, created out of the crucial need to provide an avenue for the generations within the theatre industry to enrich each other and in turn enrich a wide cross section of audience members. In USA there are over 700 such companies, yet in Australia we are yet to see an intentional Intergenerational Company. The need is great: to provide a highly aesthetic theatrical experience using a range of actors/artists in all stages of their career. These contemporary performances are highly aesthetic and cross-disciplinary. FOCC tells stories that relate to multiple generations which is timely seeing we live much longer and much healthier than ever before.
FOCC hosts relevant workshops relating to the theme of the performances, sometimes, as with the case of “HOME”, with the intention of having community stories interwoven throughout the performance and/or on display in the theatre complex. FOCC hosts events such as “The Framing Project” where our Production Manager, Gabby Castle, creates a social event where people take photos of themselves where they feel they belong. We provide a large frame. Here is the team participating in the event:
Co-founder of FOCC, Margi Brown Ash, is a qualified and experienced collaborative/narrative therapist as well as a veteran of the stage and the work she does within communities is empowering and innovative.
Margi’s collaborator, Dr. Leah Mercer heads the humanities department at Curtin University of Technology in Perth. In 2004 both Margi and Leah formed their company nest ensemble and group-devised “The Knowing of Mary Poppins”, an exploration of famous Queensland author P.L. Travers, with successful seasons in Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide Fringe. Due to Margi and Leah living on both sides of the continent, Margi decided to create Brisbane work under the name of FOCC, still engaging with and growing nest ensemble when she works in Perth and when Leah makes her regular trips to Brisbane she works as FOCC’s director and devisor.
Director Dr. Benjamin Knapton is an experienced contemporary performance maker, spending the last six years as Associate Director of Circa, travelling worldwide directing and managing teams of performers. Ben acts as director/designer of FOCC’s productions “He Dreamed a Train” as well as our latest work, working title “Eve2”. Ben acts as consultant for FOCC and was one of FOCC’s artists at Sostrup Castle’s Artist in Residence in March/April, 2016.
Travis Ash is an emerging artist who composes, writes, performs and plays piano and accordion.
Bev Jensen is our visual artist who creates the world of of the play, devising a surreal set for HOME, which has had three seasons in Brisbane, 2011, 2012 and 2015.
Freddy Komp is our Technical Production Manager and works hand in hand with Nathan Sibthorpe to create the visual landscape ably assisted by Gabrielle Castle who is our resident Stage Manager/Production Manager.
FOCC’s objectives include making work that changes the way people approach their everyday; providing new ways of being in the world; and creating an opportunity to re-story past events while inviting transformative and generative action.
FOCC tours as a way of encouraging regional areas to re-connect not just on a personal level (family and friends) but on an aesthetic level. FOCC ‘s performances are inclusive of high school, university, young adulthood, adulthood and the elderly. The one thing everyone has in common is aging, yet is usually relegated only to the elderly. Another of this company’s objectives is to re-story the myth that only the elderly age.
In 2009 FOCC collaborated on “Joey The Mechanical Boy” (an award winning season at The Blue Room, 2014).
In 2011 we created “HOME”, an interrogation of place/belonging with creative developments/workshop presentations in Mexico and Chicago followed by seasons at Metro Arts 2011, La Boite 2012 and Queensland Theatre Company 2015.
FOCC’s HOME workshops guide participants to devise/write/perform their personal myths on the HOME set with light/sound and live musician. Here we are playing with gypsy sticks, our first step towards impulsetraining.
2012 we created “EVE” with award winning productions in Brisbane and Perth and personal mythology workshops at WAAPA. In 2014 FOC was officially launched as the Brisbane arm of nest ensemble (Leah had relocated to Perth several years earlier).
In 2013 we produced “He Dreamed a Train” winning LabRat Residency at Playlab, Work-in-Residence at Metro Arts and winning SWEET creative development season, Brisbane Powerhouse. Benjamin Knapton joined us as co-devisor/director. Here is Travis Ash playing his version of Myth of Er.
In 2015 Margi, Benjamin and Travis co-devised “Coming Home” with year 10’s at Queensland Academies of Creative Industries, based on these three plays. Travis accompanied the young actors throughout the performance.
With “Coming Home” Margi taught RIC, a cultural leadership program she devised while working on her Masters/PhD with nest and FOC: Relational Impulse Cultural Training is the frame FOC/nest use in the rehearsal room,focusing on healthy/creative ways of building sustainable artistic practice.
Margi uses RIC with the artists who participate in The Re-Enchantment Project offering free counselling for artists in Brisbane at Metro Arts (FOC is Metro Arts Company in Residence). Margi also teaches RIC to acting students at QUT. In 2015 as Company in Residence Metro Arts, FOC instigated Women in Theatre Bridge Club, dedicated to building bridges to increase the profile of women in the theatre industry.