Pitch’d Circus Arts Festival director Cormac Mohally of Lords of Strut tells Ellie O’Byrne why circus deserves to be recognised as an art form in its own right.
Cormac Mohally, AKA Famous Seamus from street performance duo The Lords of Strut, is a founding member of Cork Circus Factory and the director of Pitch’d Circus Arts Festival, now in its third year. “I was around circus before it was considered an art form in Ireland and I’ve seen it grow. At first it was a lot of college students: hippies doing poi (performance art). A lot of them moved on and some got more seriously into circus and did juggling and acrobatics and some have a career now. “I learned how to juggle and did a course with Belfast Youth Circus; they were given money in 1999 for a cross-community project and they needed more tutors. The course was to teach more people how to teach circus.
“The work had dried up in the recession but that gave us more time to work on our own thing.
“Now, there’s a wider trend of body movement in things like parkour and dance, and a growing awareness of fitness levels; there are some spaces that focus on that, but I don’t really want the circus factory to be a gym. Circus, street arts and festivals are all lumped in together: they’re all classed as the same thing by the Arts Council so we’re all asking for the same money, which doesn’t make sense to me. Traditional circus isn’t seen as highbrow, but what is the arts for, really? Is it only for the elites?”…
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