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Kristina Woolnough meets the Flying Fruit Fly (‘ireusu , somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Australia.

'l’he mottle—taeed beef larmer next to me is trying to distraet me trom

hysteries by reading aloud seetions ol

his (iuide to the Albury-\\'odonga Area. As the turbo-prop plaee takes another boneshaking. teeth-rattling diy'e towards the ground. the farmer drones on about the agrieulture ol the Murray Riy‘er basin. l.oeal produee ineludes apples. And the dreaded fruit fly. Something elieks (and it is not just my ehattering

teeth). For I am on my way to meet the Flying Fruit Flies at home.

At Albiiry airport. I gather up my baggage and my nerves. lili/abeth Walsh. produetion manager and indelatigable ehampion ol the Flies. is there to meet me. :\.s we driy'e in Lil‘s immaeulate Wolls‘ l loldeit towards the Flies‘ nest (a eony'erted warehouse). she is keen to tell me about the eggy'. lary al and winged stages ol. the Flies‘ dey'elopment.

‘lt all began as a one-ol'l' eommunity proieet initiated by the Murray Riy'er l’ertorming ( irotip in 197‘). The eireus theme was hit tipoii as a way ol‘eelebrating the Year ot the (ltild. lit the first show , the kids eouldn‘t juggle. 'l‘hey eouldn't do y‘ery rnuelt at all. But there was something about it. lt worked. .\iid the kids didn‘t go away . they kept eomingbaek.‘

A lull-blooded ethos hoy'ers oy er the Circus-7 eyen though the Flying Fruit Flies hay'e won international aeelaim and awards. the ( ‘ireus remains lirrnly eommiinity-based. ‘All the ehildren eome l'rom the Albury -\\’odonga area. Our aiiti is eoneerned with the potential ol~ young people toshow that it you give someone enough time and support. they are eapable ol aehiey'ing anything. We \ll'lVL‘ to dey'elop a sense ot'eommunity . ol working together. llopelully the Fruit Flies stand tor more thaii rust a pertormanee.‘

'l'he motto ol the ( 'iretis is ‘()rdinary Kids l)oing li\traoi'diiiai‘y 'l’hings‘. Anyone eaii ioin in. though training and eommitinent ley els are neeessarily high. .\t present. some llll ehildren use the gym. although only 45 (all under the age oi l is t tan elaim to be lull-blown lilies l‘he name is deriy ed hour a loeal phenomenon. l'ntil the early l‘Nts. ears ti‘ay'elling l'rom .'\lbury (in the state ol New South Wales) to Wodonga (iii Vietoria ) or \ iee \ er sa. had to be stopped and searehed li tr fruit that might be earrying the pestilential lriiit lly. :\.s many people liy'ed iii one plaee and worked or shopped in the other. being seat ehed was a time-eoiistimiiig hassle. So yellow stiekers saying 'Friiit l'ly (‘oiitr‘ol' were dey'ised to indieaie that there was no truit on boat d. l he stiekers pr‘oy'ed inleetious. and it w as soon something that identil'ied ey ei y ear in Albury-Wodonga henee the Flying Fruit Fly ( ‘ireus.

We pull tip outside the w arehoiise. It is hot and there are plenty ol the winged speeies l‘tl/thtg’ around. \\ e go into the gym. whieh is a hiy e ol aetiy‘ity. 'l'he Flies are sw arming oy er the y'ariouspieeesoletriiipment. Some are dangling upside—down lrom ropes (1 ant later told that this is the \Veb). Others are walking the tightwire. Big Flies are iuggling l'uriously'. ehatting easually as they run through their routine. ;\ little l‘ly ((ieorge. who‘s nine and w ho say s ‘Yep‘ to may question when I later try to intery‘iew' hint ) eharges to and fro on his tittieyele. Flips and somersaults are llapping. with y ei'y oeoasional lilops. and the hubbtib is deafening.

l.iz tells me or the metamorphosis from ehild to Fly. ‘We run a range or training programmes. And then we have the kids who are enrolled tn the Aerobatie Arts ('ommunity' Sehool which was established last year, There are 50 at the sehool at the moment. btit we eould run to rm.

l he .ieiiial per lot niiiig group biiionly 3 eotild go to lit itain. so we had to


eorne tip w itli seleeiioir eritet‘ia. whieh was really totigh.‘

l he t 'iit'Lis is making its l'.tir'opeait debut iii lli'itaii‘. appear ing lii‘st at May test. then iii l oitdon and léi iuhton. t )ne thousand kilosol' ediirpiiieiit andeosttiinesisbeing How it met. l oityaiiiie people are eoiiririg t‘li the tour. .-\ll thirty ehildieii will appear in eaeh show . taking part iii a seleetioii li‘otti their ts'ttertt‘iiieol l"aets. lheseare ' interspersedwithelowningand slapstiek eoiiiedy.phis.asthe 3 piogiaiiiniepioiiiises. ‘yarious l people talhr‘igtboiit.’

\\ v at e .isked to he the atitliertee ol~ ill“ '1' ill. So we sit on the mat and olrlige. \iiddeiily . “the relentless t'lliillei slitttsaittl.illt‘ltilitll lUL‘llM‘N on the drier aiea.( hildieii who \k'ettl‘rtlsl‘ve'li‘li‘\\ele lieekly. tineoiitiollilile wild things are now eai i‘it'\’l‘. eoiieeiitiatiiig oii the tirst .iet til the rehearsal. the ( ~hair's.

-\\_ imp 'i'llie‘tl by ilie haunting mtisie that it t‘1 gen siteeia ly eoiiiposed.

the per ;i'l riiaiit'e oegiiis. l ain agog, ( 'ontiol.bal;iriee .ii‘iriiieixe iieitiuehiiidertiaiid. lhe t'llllkllt.ll ieeiei oiitopoloiie .l'l‘tllle'ldl‘ tirelite.rridliitiltwitlt no: a ha? i It the pioyei‘ltial eyelid. llie show It'llsitlt with the \Veb. l it t ;l.e -tYli_‘ analeoi Mlle hand on a rope i; add iee' :ip l hen the bigones.

who .11 ‘hixhly aeeoiiiphshed. lit the

t ‘11! h‘ ' le eliildi'en. spinning

‘1 the .iiteriiooii. I see more

or the :.‘ls r. ditieiial('hineseones tl‘i.‘ole'"littlelil.llitttl‘ drying. itiegiiii. l itlli taken on a totii'ol'the eosiiiirie liti‘lll.\\llk'le‘llL‘L'Xl‘ltl\lttll

tll t‘iilii‘dl lttlst ‘s lllt t“.L'\l‘\ \lttl‘lll. l

iiieet {h at «.ititis iiidtheehildren. lit. lt‘lill i anxiously about. tiilllllt't‘ll‘v ttiet‘lll.‘:'e'lllt'lll.iltl\lk'L' lhelattei‘do

"Nil '1“ 'llll '-.oiii torn;

iii il‘a'i

i ihesiiite.lielpirigaiidteaehiiigeaeh ! otlrt irevpiiiiolthegiotip. I l l/'e\ll.lil'~lllt’llieydle eiitotiirgediwthiiikihatwhattltey are taught is .t L'lll whieh they should theiipas oiitowiheis ltisa l‘lit id'i tsed iitllleillli ‘Il too: l’ait ol whatweaiteiirpttoiloistodeyelop hie skills \‘yor‘iaiigariderr-operating wiihotheisisyiial lhate\perienee i..llll‘lll\ be .1 positiyeoiie.~

.\t'».‘i 'ltlkik" ltt llte l lies lt.t\ e been

iiiiesi youth per lor tiring troupe; they

: many: they are tailed .\iistr‘ali;i\ ; tiayewoiiawtids.theirt'\ is l e\"ell\l\ e and iiiipiessiy e. Yet they tetaiiitheunpretentiousand tiiipieeiieiotiseharinol :iloeal pioieet. .\nd eyen though they sell out wheieyei they go. they are still iieiyotis ol their li‘iitish toiii’. ‘lt's really exerting and dangerous tor its. \\ espendsoiritith tiirre tip elose to the show . that w e loiget what it is.'

But when l. eow ai‘d ol sea and sky.

e\pr'ess my iner'edtility at the nery'e and ability ol the Flies to ( ieorge. he shrugshisshoirldersnonehalantly

and says: ‘lr’s sort or easy when you 1.". the hang!” it.‘

l he list 3? .\pril I: May 198813