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KooKoo the Bird Girl by Sarah Houbolt - internationally acclaimed circus and physical theatre performer

BY Prue Bassett Publicity | 10-Sep-2018
“Wonderfully satisfying… a terrific show – intelligent, emotional and witty… a performance that explores beautifully, the capacities of the body and the self” – Theatreview New Zealand, September 2015. “Amazing, moving and revealing …” – Express Magazine New Zealand November 2015. Sarah Houbolt celebrates the beauty of difference in her critically acclaimed one woman show, KooKoo the Bird Girl at Northcote Town Hall from 20 – 27 September, as part of the 2018 Melbourne Fringe Festival.
“My unique look is very similar to the original KooKoo the Bird Girl, so it was a natural choice of character" says Sarah, adding “KooKoo’s story is one that’s not often told, and it’s an important one”.

The original Koo-Koo the Bird Girl, Minnie Woolsey was born in the US in the late 19th century. She performed in the side show and features in Tod Browning's now iconic 1932 film Freaks. Although Freaks was banned for 30 years for being too controversial, Minnie was considered a ‘rock star’ of her times.

Sarah presents a haunting and captivating homage to Woolsey, juggling beauty, sincerity, and a heartfelt connection to a hidden past. KooKoo the Bird Girl is a visceral experience that encapsulates circus narrative; combining the traditions of the sideshow with dance, theatre and historical documentation.

This is an engaging and entertaining show about cinema, circus history and an unlikely female idol. Sarah weaves circus skill, multimedia and story in this delightful and deep production to mesmerise audiences.

The creative development spanned New Zealand, Australia, Brazil and America, as she researched the freak shows, including a pilgrimage to the Mecca of sideshow and place of KooKoo’s performances Coney Island in New York. As a consummate circus and physical theatre performer, Sarah brings a strong yet sensitive physical presence to this performance.

Sarah's credits include TEDxSydney speaker, United Nations delegate, Paralympian, featured actress in Cirque du Soleil’s Worlds Away, the lead in Hairy Maclary stage show (NZ) and feature film Reflection in the Dust, core company member of Touch Compass Dance Co. and The Dust Palace circus theatre (NZ). She has also worked for Circus Oz and Extraordinary Bodies (UK). This is the fifth season of KooKoo the Bird Girl, but the first presentation in Melbourne.

“The development of this show has been a really rich experience, spanning continents. I felt compelled to tell the story of KooKoo; it’s magical, and an important legacy. I’m also thrilled to be able to offer accessible sessions such as Auslan and audio description”