Icarus Performance Troupe was formed in 1993 when a group of friends came together to start making performance art. The company’s first big break came along when it secured a gig at The Art Gallery of NSW for the opening of its Surrealism exhibition. The show, which had a large burning sculpture of Dali’s ‘The Sleep’ as its centrepiece and featured stilt walkers with their stilts on fire, was hailed as a success. Soon bookings were coming in rapidly including the commissioning of two shows for the 1994 Sydney Festival. PB Hobb, a well known stilt walker and street theatre performer, joined the company and helped shape the companies future direction.
In the years that followed, Icarus honed it skills making and performing shows, mostly with fire and stilts as well as designing new, and at the time, innovative roving acts – in 1995, High Society and in 1996, the Funky Love Squad and Manga Robots. The company became regular performers at Darling Harbour, the new Star City Casino and the Rocks. In 1996 work started on a large scale outdoor spectacle show called ‘Ablaze!’ based on the myth of Prometheus, with director Carlos Gomes. The show was later reworked with Chris Ryan and in 1998 the company embarked on their first European tour. Icarus spent the European summers from 1998 to 2001 based in Amsterdam and working festivals all over Northern Europe.
The 2000 Sydney Olympic Games were also a highlight during this period. Icarus’ flaming stilts became a centrepiece of the fire segment in the opening ceremony. ‘Ablaze!’ was performed over 4 nights at the Pyrmont Park Live Site. Icarus’ roving acts animated live sites around the city, many of the major venues as well as the Olympic villiage.
At the end of the 2001 European tour, long time members Julie Vulcan and Averil Yeo left the company to pursue other careers. Not long after this PB Hobb was diagnosed with cancer and passed away in August 2002.
Paul Jones, the last remaining member in the company was joined by Max Meyer, a former member of Icarus and work was started on new roving acts Roo’d and Giant Leap. Roo’d was performed at the Adelaide Fringe Festival in 2002, including a controversial and unsanctioned appearance at the Performing Arts Market. The new acts toured Europe that year and were a great success. Roo’d was named 2nd best act at Glastonbury (after the band Coldplay) In a BBC radio 2 phone poll after bouncing into the moshpit of Rolf Harris during Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport, an amazing moment.
In 2005 Beach Patrol was created and became an instant favourite. More importantly, the base, muscle suit could be dressed in almost anyway and became the base of the Bouncers 2006, Footballers of all codes, Soccer Refs, Tennis Players, Cricketers, Motor Racing Drivers etc, all followed. In 2008, Louis Lamprell, a young Icarus performer, went to Bristol in the UK, to study Circus Arts. He took pair of Roo’d costumes with him. This was the start of Icarus’s UK branch. Louis stayed in the UK, starting a family and running Icarus acts as well as some of his own. Around the same period, Max Meyer left the company to pursue a career in Engineering before moving to Hobart. Fiona Britton became a partner for some years before leaving to establish her own career in communications and writing.