This year hundreds of circus-related exhibitions and events are taking place in towns and cities throughout the UK as part of Circus250, the umbrella organisation co-ordinating the year-long celebrations. Circus250, has been set-up by Ringmaster, Dea Birkett, founder and former creative director of Kids in Museums, to bring together the circus community and the custodians of heritage in recognising the illustrious history of the circus.
It all began in 1768 when Philip Astley, a six-foot former cavalryman (nicknamed ‘the devil in disguise’ by his schoolboy riding instructor for his daring and skill), began performing on horseback to audiences in a ring in Waterloo with his wife Patty. From this point on Astley began to incorporate more acts and came up with a formula for the perfect circus ring that would be mimicked by competitors and become a forerunner to the big tops we see today.
As part of the Circus250 celebrations six cities, each with very strong circus heritage and also contemporary circus practice, will carry the title of City of Circus. Among them is Newcastle-under-Lyme, the hometown of Astley, where the New Vic Theatre, working with a number of partners including the V&A, NoFit State Circus and Circolombia, will host a a variety of circus events – supported through the Arts Council’s Ambition for Excellence fund – including Astley’s Astounding Adventures billed as its most ambitious show ever.
Link to Full Article at Museums and Heritage