The Strong Women, 2011

The Strong Women act was inspired by the concept of doing acro-balance tricks on a plank of wood. We wanted to be able to perform as a comedy-roving act, so the idea of having a couple of clowning strong(wo)men to carry the ‘very heavy’ plank and ‘very heavy’ milk crates upon which the plank was supported, was born. Angela James very cleverly made covers with handles for the milk crates, so the strong women could easily carry them, whilst appearing to be ‘very strong’ indeed!

The original strong women were Gaetane Potard and Jen Marshall with Libby Bloxham, Ellen de Jong, Ellen Curtis, Louise London and Jen Webster taking turns performing on the plank, and accompanied by Angela James and Maree Alwert (on her teeny tiny bicycle), the act was a memorable part of the Viva la Gong parade in 2011. Afterwards at the festival, all manner of circus costumes and objects were supplied for the children at the festival to ‘have a go’ doing tricks whilst balancing on the plank, encouraged by Angela and Maree. What fun was had! This success inspired the giant tartan suitcase, used to store the costume bits and objects for further performances and children’s workshops.

The act was again performed at the International Women’s Day art exhibition at Project Artspace, the Bubbles Ball at Port Kembla, at the Shellharbour Club as part of The Travelling Circus show and in the kids show tent at the Kangaroo Valley Folk Fest, with ukelele accompaniment by Linda Meyns and a brilliant solo hoop performance by Shona Connacher to follow. Other strongwomen characters appeared when Chantelle Pickett and Jem Lewendowski-Porter created the comic acrobatic duo, Hans und Lars, performing at local events including the Illawarra Folk Festival. With Ellen de Jong filling in for Jem, they were also part of the pre show entertainment for the One Really Big Circus show in 2016.

Libby Bloxham

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