Circus News

Circus Tradition and Experimentation Make a Seductive Mix in Lexicon

Roll up, roll up for the 250th anniversary of circus as we know it. Daring high-wire acts! Death-defying trapezes! Crazy tricks, like one involving a lot of champagne glasses and a unicycle, that you never knew till now that you wanted to see! “It’s a little-known fact,” says Tom Rack, artistic director of Cardiff-based circus NoFit State, “but circus in its modern form was invented 250 years ago by an Englishman, Philip Astley.”

Astley’s big breakthrough, he says, was to realise that horses trained to do tricks could still do them while going round in a circle. He also knew how to make money. “Astley was an equestrian but also an entrepreneur,” Rack says. “So he hired jugglers off the street and wire walkers from the pleasure gardens, commedia dell’arte troupes and musicians – and put together what we know now as circus.”

Rack is big and beardy, like a cross between Jerry Garcia and Dumbledore – in short, exactly the sort of fellow you would ask if you wanted to hear some old circus lore. We are sitting on a green field on the Brighton foreshore in Britain, where the nearby NoFit State circus tent is looking exactly as circus tents have looked for 250 years: very jolly indeed. Firenza Guidi, a theatre director based in Italy who also lectures at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, is here too. She directed the new show, Lexicon, which is the company’s contribution to circus’ quarter-millennium. It opens in the Royal Botanic Gardens on October 3, as part of this year’s Melbourne Festival…

Read the Full Article at Sydney Morning Herald

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