Ruccis Circus comes to town


Amy Middleton from Burrinja talks to Darren Clarke about running away with the circus.

Upwey-based photographer Darren Clarke takes photographs because it enables him to stop and look at the beauty in the world. Darren recently spent an evening at Burrinja photographing some of the talented members of Ruccis Circus who took part in the Burrinja Circus Festival in September. In an interview with Darren, he offered the following insight into his practise.

How did you first get into photography?
I have always been creative and involved in some form of art.  I used to airbrush portraits, but when my son came along I found I didn’t have the time or space to do that anymore. It was during this  time that my father-in-law gave me a camera so I could start capturing those special family memories, that was about 6 years ago and I don’t think a day has passed without me taking a photo since then.

What do you look for in subject matter and Why?
I take photos of many different subjects, for various reasons but it depends on my mood at the time. I enjoy photographing Ruccis Circus and capturing a sense of fun. They are always having such a great time it’s not hard to find a smile; the only tricky bit is capturing some of the action shots.

How long have you been working with Ruccis Circus?
I first started taking photos for Ruccis about 4 months ago. After taking a lot of landscape shots I wanted to gain experience photographing people and Anna volunteered her students, they have quickly turned into one of my favourite subjects. Ruccis is such a fun place, the people, the atmosphere, the colour and movement. After all… who doesn’t love the Circus! As a kid I used to dream of running away and joining a circus, and now I get to get close to the action by taking photographs.

To see more of Darren’s’ photography go to…


Melbourne Fringe Review

Top: Black Box theatre, Burrinja, Tegan Higginbotham, Emily Taylor

Top: Black Box theatre, Burrinja. Bottom (left to right): Tegan Higginbotham, Emily Taylor.

Review by Nadia Rankin the first young writer to join our mentoring program.

Upon seeing these two performances I have learned an important fact of life. I learned that first impressions are often wrong. For example when the sweet faced Tegan Higginbotham entered the stage, I prepared myself for family laughter and mean girls references. But I was soon to discover that I was in fact being told the blood curdling and somewhat disturbing tale of the time Ms. Higginbotham herself decided it might be fun if she attempted pro boxing.
And my first impression when I saw Emily Taylor, the kind faced young woman with a slightly droopy right eye, was that I would be experiencing the generic ‘Woman at front of the stage, talking.’ Stand up, but was faced with an eerie, yet extremely theatrical monologue, in which I was introduced to six slightly insane humans (and a creepy cabbage patch doll) all of which seemed to morph from the one woman’s body.

The Punch Line

So I will begin with ‘Million Dollar Tegan’. I must admit I was amazed by Tegan’s contrasting personality. She had a young, sugary feel to the way she told her story, letting out girlish giggles here and there. Yet she was highly aggressive, she had stunning energy and a warm enthusiastic vibe. She had a beautiful connection to the audience, responding to their comments and treating them as she would a close relative. Not only this, it also looked as though she was enjoying herself and felt more than comfortable talking up on stage about being beaten up by her friend and ex-model ‘Megan’ . I have no idea how she did it, but she almost made her horror story seem fun…  her little narrative provided crystal clear imagery the whole way through and the intimate way she described everything made me and hopefully the entire audience feel as though the people that guided her through her phase were close friends of ours. Her performance include a variety of styles, ranging from feminine, gentle techniques pulling the heart strings of the audience at the same time as calling her mother a whore for not packing her Tiny Teddies in her lunch box and describing the ‘arse’ like smell of boxing gloves.
Her performance was very relatable however and she was far too lady-like for being the Dandenong girl she labelled herself as.

Something To Crow About

I almost jumped in my seat when I heard the four year olds voice surfacing from the lips of the woman my first impression had told me would be telling tales and punch lines all night. And I was surprised when the little girl transformed into a cool, masculine business man, with a passion for zodiacs. And by the time Ms. Taylor was acting out ‘Miles’ the soulless window cleaner, with hereditary depression and a sad past, I could no longer see the woman on the stage, but six crazy people with psychological difficulties and a dark laundry. She had graceful alternations between characters and a flowing interaction between their conversations, so smooth I could see two people at once. Her performance was complemented by creative lighting and sound effects. The audience watched with jaw hanging fascination. I am not sure you can call this cynical monologue a comedy, but certainly a fine piece of theatre and a captivating outlook on life. There was 100% concentration on her behalf and 100% attention was given from the audience. The dark ending fitted all too well.  She honestly believed every word from every personality she acted of her over-the-top sufferers of neurosis, in her Tracey Ullman sketch style.

These performances were nearly opposites, making it interesting being put one after the other. Tegan showed herself to be very natural in character as though her show had never been performed, but rather she was telling a friend while getting her hair braided at the salon. And Emily’s approach was not herself, but perhaps demonstrating the psycho within us all.
Both used effective techniques and their words rolled off their tongues. A night of emotional excitement and a slight adrenalin rush is guaranteed for all those who go to see these two thrilling performances.

Welcome to the hillscene blog


The hillscene editorial team (from left to right) Adriana Alvarez, Amy Middleton, Zac Exner and Ross Farnell.


Hello and welcome to the hillscene blog. It’s so exciting for us at the hillscene to be starting this adventure. It’s inception was due to the fact that hillscene and Burrinja Cultural Centre have formed a partnership to bring you a bigger and better hillscene experience. I’ve always wanted to have a blog but it wouldn’t be possible without the help of the great editorial team from Burrinja – Amy Middleton, Zac Exner and Ross Farnell. With their help and great ideas we’re making this blog into a forum that will be more than just one person’s vision. Each month, it will include guest posts from established bloggers, both local and from further afield, who will be coming to try new things in our area. There will also be posts from our young writers who will be mentored by Amy Middleton, Burrinja’s Community Cultural Development Officer. A post from Burrinja and one from me, Adriana Alvarez, the creator of the hillscene. With reviews and news from the local area that we can’t get into the quarterly publication, we hope to bring you more of what you’ve come to love about the hillscene and about our beautiful local scene.