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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | October 20, 2020

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Interview: Scotch and Soda's Chelsea McGuffin

Interview: Scotch and Soda’s Chelsea McGuffin

| On 05, Nov 2015

Company 2’s International sensation Scotch & Soda returns to the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts this November! The Creative Issue caught up with co-founder Chelsea McGuffin to chat about this exciting show.

Some of Australia’s finest musicians and acrobats butt heads to create Scotch and Soda, a whiskey-soaked evening of raucous dance and dextrous feats. Channeling the vibe of some alternate place and time where early military brass bands meet travelling gypsies in a rowdy whiskey joint. Leading you in to the realm of vaudeville with their grimy charm and breathtaking acrobatics are four of Australia’s most experienced and respected circus performers. Add the big brass gyp-hop/funk fusion stylings of the crusty suitcase band, led by renowned percussionist and composer Ben Walsh; and things are going to get spectacularly messy.

TCI: What can audiences expect from Scotch & Soda?

Chelsea McGuffin: ​Scotch & Soda is a circus and music party from start to end.  Like any good party it has its highs and lows and always the guests stay too long.  So the show is full of stories, adventure, ideas, and bundles of great circus and music.​ We hope you leave feeling like you have just run away with the circus.

TCI: How much work and preparation goes into the making of the show?

Chelsea McGuffin: ​OH…  A lot.  Sometimes it feels like too much.  My children would say “Enough circus talk now!”. We love what we do and what we do overtakes your life.  There is no such things are working hours. It is 11.08pm now and I am answering these questions.  When in the planning and build-up to a season the show is all-consuming.  Training, emailing, building, meetings, PR, sewing and selling tickets. But then there is the marketing deadline for the next season and the freight issues from the last tour.

We are only a small company doing what we do so anything that needs to happen only happens if we do it.  ​It is always a great feeling when the show opens, the audience smiles and the reviews are GOOD!The show mixes acrobatics and magicians, jazz and humour.

TCI: Was this a challenge and where did the inspiration for such a show come from?

Chelsea McGuffin: Company 2 had toured internationally with a work called ‘Cantina’. We wanted to create something new and continue touring to some of the festivals where ‘Cantina” had been.​We had known some the band members for a while and talked about creating a work with them.  A work which explored a true collaboration of circus and music.

They are two things that go very well together (similar to Scotch & Soda)​.  We always work with live music but with Scotch & Soda we wanted to push the music to the front of the stage and have the circus emerge from it.  That was our basic inspiration and it is still the idea that drives us along.  We are always searching for the moments to bring the music and circus together in a new way.

Scotch and Soda

TCI: Scotch & Soda has received rave reviews – how excited were the cast and crew at the news?

Chelsea McGuffin: ​The build-up to reviews can be very stressful. Of course we all ​want to receive great reviews. I am always in search of a well-written review. If the viewer likes the show or not I am not too worried, I am more interested in what they see inside the performance and if I have told the story I had hoped to.  It can be an opportunity to learn about your work.  Unfortunately, reviews that are educated about the circus art form, can be sometimes hard to come by. ​

TCI: Do you ever feel the pressure of putting on a “bigger and better show” than the previous one?

Chelsea McGuffin: ​Yes everyday.  But I think if you are not aiming to be better (not so much bigger) it is probable time for a 9 – 5pm job.​ All performances from Company 2 incorporates modern elements with traditional ones. How important is it for you to include the two?

​Tradition is very important to us.  A connection we have with one of our trainers Cletus Ball, has shaped our careers in a way we could never have imagined.  I think staying true to that connection has kept us connected to the traditions of circus, music and dance.  ​However, to bring in the modern element is just as important. We live in a modern world and this current world says a lot about us as people. Bringing the two worlds together in turn finds new theatrical worlds to escape to.

TCI: Over the last few years, Company 2 has experienced great success for a small performing arts company. How did the idea come about to start your own company?

Chelsea McGuffin: ​Both David and I are very strong-headed ideas people.  Creating a company was what we both needed to do to find a platform to really explore the work we wanted to make.​

TCI: What would be your advice for emerging artists who wish to pursue a career in the performing arts?

Chelsea McGuffin: ​DO IT!  If you have the passion for it, the drive to follow it through, the ability to see or seek opportunities, then the performing arts is for you.​

TCI: What does 2016 have in store for Company 2? 

Chelsea McGuffin:  Two new works, a development, some touring, training, teaching and a heap of gaps that just seem to fill up just when you think they won’t!​


What Scotch & Soda

Where Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts

When 18 – 28 November 2015

How Much $33 – $42

More information To purchase tickets, visit the Judith Wright website here

Image Credits: Scotch & Soda