Circus was created to fill a gap left by ‘serious’ theatre. Now a new generation of performers is rejecting bureaucratisation to rediscover the artform’s anarchic roots, writes John Ellingsworth.
Last year marked a significant anniversary for circus: 250 years since the foundation of Astley’s Circus. With events up and down the country, the year-long Circus250 was a moment to celebrate circus as an artform, but also to reflect on its long history of reinventions, falls and rises, near-disappearances and shock returns.
Astley’s Circus came about because the founders saw a gap in the market left by a concerted movement towards ‘serious’ theatre. It brought together physical skills that had existed on the fringes and occasionally in the mainstream for centuries. Much later, in the 1960s, ‘new circus’ sprang from a background of social upheaval and protest as part of a radical desire to break from performance traditions, democratise culture and remove the barriers between high and low art. In this sense, circus has always understood how to seize a good opportunity – and how to turn itself to the challenges of the moment.
Link to Full Article at Art Professionals.