For the 40th Anniversary season of Big Apple Circus, chairman Neil Kahanovitz brought together an incredible team of designers to infuse the circus with a new heightened design aesthetic. Directed by Mark Lonergan, the new production of the circus features production design by Rob Bissinger and Anita La Scala of ARDA Studio, with lighting design by Jeff Croiter. Check out the production design here.
In the Bissinger and La Scala’s first meeting with Lonergan and collaborator and clown Joel Jeske, the vision of the Big Apple Circus seemed clear. “If you compare the Big Apple Circus to spectacle performances like Cirque, who rely on amazing technology and this idea that the performers are inhuman, then that defies who they are as performers,” says La Scala. “Mark made sure that what we were working towards a show that embraced humanity and supported how amazing these performers are without making who they really are.” This meant that costume designer Amy Clark really got to start with the performers.
When Clark was approached about designing the 40th Anniversary Big Apple Circus, she was so excited that she worked hard to rearrange her schedule to be able to design the project. “I love [the circus] so much. It’s like the farthest thing from a play,” she says. She is the only member of the team with extensive circus experience, having designed the costumes for Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey twice before. That experience was invaluable to her. “It was an easier transition because I knew the challenges already. Every act and performer will bring their own specificities and needs, but I had a great understanding what fabrics would be successful with the reality of the wear and tear,” she says. Clark is incredibly appreciative of her time with Ringling because the in-house costume head taught her so much about working with the circus.
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