Circus250: Celebrating Circus History & Embracing Circus Present - CircusTalk

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Circus250: Celebrating Circus History & Embracing Circus Present

Dea Birkett’s love of circus goes way back. But it was when she received a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship to run away and join the circus that her life changed forever. She has been running away ever since. In some ways, it is clear why the art form attracts her so much–her curiosity and her itch to travel have led her to some amazing places. She has worked as a creative director of films, documentaries and plays. As a published author who has written seven books, several about travel, and a columnist for the Guardian as well as a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, she is perhaps the ideal spokesperson  for circus past, present and future. So it’s no wonder that she was the person who had the hutzpah to organize Circus250, a year-long, multi-facedted collection of events in the UK that celebrates the 250th anniversary of circus. But Circus250 has a broader mission than just educating the general population on the roots of circus. They also hope to bridge the traditional/contemporary divide by making the historical aspects not just more accessible to contemporary practitioners, but also by creating opportunities for them to converse and perform throughout the year. One of the key messages listed on the website is “Circus today takes many wonderful forms, but shares a common root.”  Another is “Circus250 enables and supports a step change in circus practice, bringing radical new expressions and experiments across the arts.” But those aren’t the only key messages they espouse and each of them deserve a good read. Circus Talk was lucky to have a word with Birkett about the project:
How/why did you decide to start Circus 250? In April 2016, I was sitting in a trailer on a pitch chatting to some artistes. It was a traditional circus in UK, and like all British traditional circuses, 1768 is a hugely important date. Everyone in the trailer started talking about how it was going to be 250 years since the very first circus in 2018. A couple of weeks later, I was sitting in another trailer, with different artistes. Exactly the same conversation happened. Then in another … until I realized we needed to stop talking about it, and start marking it. And  while all of us in the trailer knew about this significant anniversary, not many others did. In particular, those in the contemporary circus world. So we set about letting them know about it. At that stage, I wasn’t reall...
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Kim Campbell

Kim Campbell has written about circus for CircusTalk.News, Spectacle magazine, Circus Now, Circus Promoters and was a resident for Circus Stories, Le Cirque Vu Par with En Piste in 2015 at the Montreal Completement Cirque Festival. They are the former editor of CircusTalk.News, American Circus Educators magazine, as well as a staff writer for the web publication Third Coast Review, where they write about circus, theatre, arts and culture. Kim is a member of the American Theater Critics Association.