On the Couch with Nicci Wilks

Nicci Wilks AAR On the CouchWho is Nicci Wilks?
I’m a freelance performing artist and theatre maker. I’ve been in the biz for 40 years travelling the world, strutting my skills on every continent, performing in 14 languages. I grew up in the Flying Fruit Fly Circus and then went to Circus Oz where I honed my performing chops. I still work in circus, but now I predominantly create and perform text-based physical theatre. I’ve performed in lots of places from the Pitjantjatjura lands to 42nd Street to the Venice Biennale. When I’m not on tour, I am also a Clown Doctor for The Humour Foundation.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
Look after my spine more.

Who inspires you and why?
I’m currently running a two-week free, open workshop at Circus Oz for about 25 amazing artists/acrobats from the broader circus and physical theatre community. They inspire me everyday with their physical prowess and their courage to try something new both physically and performatively. We laugh a lot, share a lot, embrace naughtiness and the stupidity of humanity.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Woah! That’s a big one. So many things: Universal wage, equal division of wealth throughout the world, cease all mining, equality for all, protect bees, ban plastics, plant more trees, restrict urban growth, listen to the indigenous mob about how to take care of this land and let them run the country, free child care, increase public housing and public health…the list goes on. What I do as an artist may not change much but maybe it will offer a reprieve, a grab at a little joy when there’s so few grabs at joy to be had.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
My favourite destination is Lake Sea Caravan Park in Durras, NSW. I like to camp there in summer. I like to take the one minute walk to the beach in the morning and then I like to take the one minute walk to the lake in the afternoon. So much wildlife and you meet all kinds of humans, some who have been going there for over 25 years. Did I just put the secret out there?!

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
In Melbourne it’s Marios Café on Brunswick St, Fitzroy. I’ve been going there for over 30 years since I first moved to Melbourne. Great food, great art, great service and fantastic staff. A lot of the staff are still the same as when I first had dinner there and that is saying something. I learnt an entire script in Italian for a season I did in Milan by having dinner regularly at Marios and being coached by the waiter Massimo.

In Albury, my hometown, I’d take them to Mungabareena where the mighty Murray River flows. So many beautiful swimming spots.

What are you currently reading?
I am re-reading Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison. I love it. It’s a fabulous book about gender and class in the US.

What are you currently listening to?
Someone in the rehearsal room next door to me here at Circus Oz going crazy on the electric guitar at 8.30am!

Happiness is?
A full house. A moved audience. A tour. Five Stars! Being in a room with a bunch of eclectic artists. Doing tricks with my dog Moose.

What does the future hold for you?
Hopefully a long career in the performing arts, constantly learning from others and bringing performances to everyday people everywhere. And a healthier spine I hope.

Nicci is a creator of and performer in The Long Pigs – currently playing at Theatre Works, St Kilda until 10 December, before playing at the Butter Factory Theatre, Wodonga, as part of Borderville Circus Festival, 13 – 14 December 2023.

Image: Nicci Wilks (supplied)