Dummies Corp’s Jamie Bretman talks DUMTECTIVES IN CIRQUE NOIR

Murder, mystery, and mischeif. What more could you want in a night out?

That trifecta is exactly what you’ll find in Dummies Corp’s newest show, Dumtectives in Cirque Noir. Renowned for their multi award winning kids shows, Dummies Corp was founded by Jamie Bretman, Jack Coleman and Simon Wright in 2012. The company have since been delighting young audiences with Circus, and have toured nationally and internationally, performing for sell-out crowds in Australia, Asia, and Europe. Dumtectives in Cirque Noir marks their first foray into the world of ‘grown up’ shows, mashing Circus with the iconic Film Noir genre.

Jamie Bretman

Jamie is a circus performer and producer with the multi award-winning company Dummies Corp. A graduate of Circo Arts in New Zealand and the National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA) in Australia. He has an incredibly diverse set of skills spanning acrobatics, fire performing, clowning, manipulation and music (Jamie can play more than five different instruments). Jamie’s characteristic performance style, a clever mix of vaudeville clown and contemporary circus, has enchanted audiences through his solo shows and larger ensemble work. Dummies Corp have toured extensively across Australia and around the world with their productions, Trash Test Dummies and Splash Test Dummies, delighting families in the UK, Hong Kong, Korea, Europe, USA, New Zealand and at home in Australia. He is Executive Producer for Dummies Corp, collaborating with venues, producers and agents to deliver touring productions and corporate entertainment and bespoke performance.

What has been the biggest difference in writing a show for adults?

Jamie: It’s kind of like anything goes, and you get to use the creativity on your storytelling. With kids, you can only go so far, there are lines that you can’t cross, but with an adult show you can kind of go as far as you want and then pull it back if you need to. It just gives you a little bit more freedom to explore ideas. You know, we can get more violent, we can get more sexy, we can get more silly. We can have nudity, which you can’t have a kids show obviously [chuckles]. It’s been a really great challenge to actually try to be funny but not just relying on a dick joke, for instance. You’re trying to find really clever ways of still doing those things. We actually find our kids shows are more like family shows, because the adults do get the cleverness and the jokes are still for them. So what we’re really trying to do with this new show is avoid cheap gags and cheap tricks. We’re actually thinking a lot about the detail and how to use what we know and do with our family shows.

How have you integrated the Film Noir style into Dumtectives?

Jamie: So there’s a lot of things we’ve done. One of the things we’ve done is have a narrative that follows a story from start to finish. We have a femme fatale, we have detectives, there’s a murder, that sort of thing. And then we’ve just thought a lot about how we can include those circus skills to match the story and also fit the era. It’s 1940s and that’s everything from music, lighting design, to where they are and how their office is set up. It’s kind of like a Film Noir, but it’s also kind of making making fun of it as well. We’ve watched a lot of Film Noir movies and just done a lot of research on the era, and then tried to make some of our old gags contemporary and fit in with the theme that we’ve been working on. It’s all story driven.

People often have a very particular understanding of what Circus and Clowning is, but Dummies Corp have really broadened horizons by showing it’s more than red noses and tiny cars. Could you tell me about how you’re combining those iconic performance styles with others in Dumtectives?

Jamie: That’s exactly how we feel about it. But it is very hard to sort of tell people that – I try not to say I’m a clown because that doesn’t make sense to them. You know, I’m not a kid’s clown, even though I also do family entertainment, I don’t do what most people think is ‘clowning’ with the balloons and stuff. What we’re trying to do is mix circus theatre, physical theatre, dance, puppetry, and magic gags. And because we’re debuting at the Comedy Festival, we’re really focusing on that comedy. So it’s that mixing of elements that we’re really working on. So it’s not just circus, even though we have really high circus skills, there’s also great comedy, great clowning. So it’s not just a circus show, it’s not just a comedy show. It’s kind of all the different elements. Being able to tell a story and be engaging in an interactive kind of way where we’re actually there with you, you know, breaking the fourth wall and feeding off your energy… for me, that’s a different kind of magical.

If you had to sum up Dumtectives in Cirque Noir in one sentence, what would it be?

Jamie: It’s a narrative driven circus show, circus comedy show that is set in 1940s Film Noir with high acrobatics and burlesque puppetry and comedy, and you can definitely expect to see to be wowed by the circus and entertained by the performers.

Dumtectives in Cirque Noir runs from April 6 to 18th at the Arts Centre Melbourne Spiegeltent.

For tickets and more information, visit the Melbourne International Comedy Festival website.

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator, and is the current Deputy Editor-in-Chief of AussieTheatre.com. She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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