Catherine trained in European Theatre Arts at Rose Bruford College and subsequently worked as an actor for nine years, before coming to Circomedia between 2011-2013 to learn about integrating circus and physical theatre as a director. Alongside teaching at Circomedia, Cat is now the Artistic Director of Can’t Sit Still, a physical and circus theatre company that is currently developing Plink/Boo, a show for very young audiences about gender stereotyping in children’s toys and play. Other freelance direction and facilitation work includes Me, Mother at the Roundhouse, PanGottic Circus-Theatre, Hubbub Theatre, New Street Theatre and Travelling Light. 

We interviewed Catherine to find out more about life with and beyond Circomedia.

What did studying with Circomedia mean to you – i.e. how did it help you develop as a performer?

Circomedia was instrumental in the development of my career. I had already been working as an actor for nine years when I joined the course, and I came because I wanted to learn how to create my own work, so I wasn't always at the mercy of casting directors. Being at Circomedia gave me the time to reflect on my practice, and come to the new understanding that whilst I loved the creative process, I didn't want to stand on stage night after night anymore - I wanted to be in the rehearsal room making work. This isn't the path that most students follow here, but once I'd reached this realisation, the staff supported me and gave me as much opportunity as possible to explore directing, teaching and producing within circus, physical theatre and outdoor arts, which is what I do for a living now.

When did you set up Can’t Sit Still?

Can't Sit Still was set up by myself and two friends whilst we were in the 2nd year - we just wanted to make work together beyond Circomedia. We had an idea for a show, and put together an Arts Council funding application. We found out that we'd been awarded the grant on our very last day at Circomedia.

What kind of work do you endeavour to create with the company? What are your aims for your creative work?

A lot of Can't Sit Still's work has been for children and family audiences, although I never want to limit the work we make. I feel if something is good then it's for everyone, really. We primarily work with physical theatre and circus, but we also integrate a lot of puppetry into our shows, as well as original and sometimes live music. Most of all, I always say that I want the shows we make to start a conversation over the breakfast table the next day. I want families to take what they saw on stage or in the street and feel moved enough by it to spend time talking about it together, so that each member of that family can develop their opinions by learning from the other. And then go and do something about the issues it raised.

How did you find the transition from studying at Circomedia to teaching a new generation of performers?

Initially I found it quite easy - I had such recent knowledge of what it felt like to be a student and the challenges of the course, and this was huge advantage during my first year of teaching. Now I'm 4 years on and the course is developing all the time, so I definitely have less first hand knowledge of what the students go through, but I also have a lot more experience as a teacher and professional circus theatre maker, so I hope that I can contribute to the course in different ways.

What would your message to be to someone considering studying with us?

Be open to whatever the course will hold, and take it one day at a time. Throw yourself into everything with all your might. Whether you stay for 3 months or 3 years, it could be the best time of your life and will almost certainly be over before you know it.