Creating a Rawcus

Thomas Banks
Rawcus is a group of actors who perform regular shows. Some of the members of Rawcus have a disability. Rawcus began in 2000 and has performed many successful shows, including one with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. They also run workshops for people to learn about acting. Their next big show is called Small Odysseys. The actors say they want to challenge themselves and make something special.
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Thomas Banks on 06/07/2011
A woman standing with her arms crossed in a large shed surrounded by smoke
A woman standing with her arms crossed in a large shed surrounded by smoke

"Theatre" sign in lights.

Based in St. Kilda, Rawcus is an ensemble of 13 professional actors with and without disabilities. The company works with a team of designers to devise creative new shows with a distinctive voice.

Rawcus artistic director Kate Sulan says the company was established in 2000 by Scope Victoria to create a one-off performance for the National Cerebral Palsy Conference. It was immediately clear they had something very special.

There was so much creative energy around the ensemble that created this initial performance, Ms Sulan says. We wanted to keep on working together.

Continued to grow

Rawcus's next show, Designer Child, was performed in 2002. In the following years the company continued to grow and became incorporated in 2005.

Ms Sulan says the most successful Rawcus show was Hunger in October 2007. It explored love and relationships. She says the project was a “remarkable collaboration” with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Funding for Rawcus largely comes from Arts Victoria and the Australian Council. But Ms Sulan says they are also fortunate to receive support from a range of other Australian trusts.

To give something back, Ms Sulan says Rawcus runs outreach projects. The projects offer the chance for people to get involved and learn from the company. The last project we did was with parents and children with disabilities, she says. We're currently planning our next community project with St. Martin's Youth Theatre.

Small Odysseys

Rawcus's next major performance is Small Odysseys. It is a show about great quests, from the epic to the personal. It fully embraces the Rawcus mission statement that “we are not afraid”.

“It is about making big shows. It's about performing and transforming. It is about vulnerability, having ourselves a good time, and about relationships,” the mission statement proclaims.

“We all come from different backgrounds and walks of life and we all have different experiences. Rawcus is about achieving something together… about challenge… about making space for unexpected things to happen.”

Small Odysseys runs from July 13 to 23. It will be presented at Arts House, Meat Market in North Melbourne. Tickets are available from the Arts House website (opens new window).

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