Circus performer Sarah Houbolt brings you an authentic new story of circus and film, through the lens of historical female performer, Minnie Woolsley, who played Koo Koo the Bird Girl in Tod Browning’s cult classic film Freaks (1932). KooKoo the Birdgirl is a moving, visceral, haunting yet subversively funny, strong one woman performance that captures a slice of cinema history never before told.

“Wonderfully satisfying… a terrific show – intelligent, emotional and witty… a performance that explores beautifully, the capacities of the body and the self” – Theatreview New Zealand, September 2015

Venue Format
Theatre, Hall, Black Box Venue
Technical Rating
Touring Party
Performer and Director. Production Manager (who can operate lights, sound) can be supplied.

This performance involves projections on a black wall. A little bit of technical time needs to be put aside for testing the size. This show can tour with a projector if required. The show is appropriate for ages 12 and up, however younger children can still come - it is not an adult show, the younger children may not stay focused and would get bored.

Sarah Houbolt is a bold and daring, professional circus and physical theatre performer with a unique style and something to say. Born in Queensland and now based in Sydney, Sarah enjoys making new work that provokes thought, challenges perceptions and creates space to use her body to greatest capacity, both physically and conceptually. Sarah trained in aerials, acrobatics and hula hoops with Vulcana Women’s Circus. From 2009 – 2014 she worked in New Zealand with companies such as The Dust Palace, Touch Compass Dance Co., and Tim Bray Productions, and also featured on TVNZ’s Shortland Street and Cirque du Soleil’s Worlds Away. In 2015 Sarah performed at Adelaide Fringe Festival, made and internationally premiered her one woman show Kookoo the Birdgirl, and was an artist on ANAT’s ‘Unfixed’ residency. In 2016, Sarah organised the 5th biennial national arts & disability conference, Arts Activated, at Carriageworks, and spoke at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, Sydney Opera House. Sarah is also a project manager in the arts, disability and community sectors.

Company Website

Unique Selling Point

This show is appealing to audiences because it looks at the breadth of humanity, the 1920s/1930s and focuses on a rare film, which is intriguing. This show is unique because it tells the story of a female performer with disability from history, which is a story that is not often told. This show is placed in a wider context of global cries for diversity on stage. This show is special because it includes a unique body, haunting visuals, moving performance and a glimpse of concepts not ever treated which such authenticity on stage.

Marketing Materials

Full length video of show Promo video of show Performance Show reel Touch Compass Dance Co. promo 2012 SBS The Feed interview SNAP Festival (Ballarat) promo for Koo Koo the Bird Girl Paul Henry Breakfast show interview Nov 2015 (TVNZ) Featured in Cirque du Soleil's 'Worlds Away' film Freaks film (1932), clips on youtube Radio NZ July 2012 & Oct 2015 ABC radio Aug 2016 & Nov 2016 Theatreview(NZ) Sept 2015 & Nov 2015 Express Magazine NZ review Nov 2015 ABC612 Breakfast review Nov 2016 Nothing Ever Happens in Brisbane blog review Nov 2016 DANZ magazine article Nov 2015 Ideas at the House article 2016 Sydney Morning Herald article, ABC Online The Guardian article

Community Engagement

Koo Koo the Bird Girl is a performance that will definitely leave a legacy. The show itself is about the legacy of circus and disability, and is a thought provoking work that leaves audiences questioning the freak shows, exclusion, difference and humanity. The performer is happy to do artist talks, community workshops, roving and spot performance, film screenings, alongside the performance. The performer is happy to do any media engagements, and double or triple bill seasons.