Critics Face-Off: De Ritis and Campbell Dissect the New Book Contemporary Circus. Plus, a Giveaway! - CircusTalk

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Critics Face-Off: De Ritis and Campbell Dissect the New Book Contemporary Circus. Plus, a Giveaway!

In the new book titled Contemporary Circus, three academics with a focus on circus studies (Lavers, Leroux, and Burtt) endeavor to highlight the significant elements of a developing art form by featuring interviews with twenty-four circus creators. Their motive? To help bridge the divide between the worlds of circus practice (usually undertaken by the young circus creator) and theory (often a scholar with a background in circus or an interest in understanding its benefits for society). That these worlds overlap is undeniable–it happens at professional circus schools and at festivals and conferences regularly–but the book maintains that without the studying, analyzing and publishing of ideas around circus outputs, society (and cultural agents who regulate and fund the arts) will remain in the dark.

The resulting book is a rare peek into the mind of circus creators, examining their motives and processes, but with an added bird’s eye view from the academic minds of the authors who contextualize and process it all through the socio-political lens. Contemporary Circus is illustrated with fifty photos of contemporary productions, and grouped into themes: apparatus (contesting mastery), politics (contesting the normate) , performers (contesting prowess), and new work (contesting the circus act.) It is noteworthy how the whole premise of the book is to contest things–and that includes the status quo in the industry itself, our own preconceptions about circus and even the works themselves. It is well done, especially when you read the voices of the carefully selected creators that have been paired to each theme, for example the interview with Phia Menard (juggler, company founder, and performance artist), in the ‘Politics in Contemporary Circus’ section, where t...

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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 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.