UK's biggest festival of contemporary circus is back - CircusTalk

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UK’s biggest festival of contemporary circus is back

Bristol in England’s status as an internationally important centre of circus theatre excellence will get a further boost next month with the return of Circus City – the UK’s biggest festival of contemporary circus and physical theatre.

Taking place from October 1 to 22 at venues including Arnolfini, Circomedia, Redgrave Theatre and Unit 15, the festival’s latest edition will showcase work by leading circus theatre artists from as far away as the States, Scandinavia, Italy and Germany as well as Bristol-based talent.

Full details of the programme’s combinations of aerial, manipulation and acrobatic skills, theatre, dance, spoken word, puppetry, film, music and more can be viewed/booked online now via but highlights include:

  • A SPECTACLE OF HERSELF (October 6 & 7, Arnolfini) – the latest work by the genre-defying Bristol based artist Laura Murphy featuring her trademark mix of aerial rope, lip-sync, video and confession to tackle mental health, queerness, rage and the space race.
  • The world premiere of TESS, (October 13-15, Unit 15) – a ground-breaking re-telling by the acclaimed Ockham’s Razor company of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles using shifting walls, ropes and cloths to convey the story’s messages about love, desire, consent, power and loss.
  • Two new shows by sleight-of-hand maestro Tom Cassani – ITERATIONS (Oct 19, Circomedia), revealing some of the secrets of conjuring, and A SHOW OF HANDS (October 20, Circomedia), involving tricks with coins, cards, palms and mind reading which serve up warnings about how easy it is to be deceived.
  • From Finland, the UK premiere of NOISE JUICE (October 19 & 20, Unit 15), the first full length show by Muovipussi, serving up a mix of circus, comedy, music and surprising illusions.
  • The UK-premiere of BOOKS!– a joy-filled adventure for all the family from Tit for Tat (October 21 & 22, Unit 15) involving acrobatics, slapstick humour and a mission to rescue books from closing libraries.

Festival artistic director Nicole A’Court Stuart says: “Bristol is already widely recognised as a world-class centre of contemporary circus excellence, thanks in no small part to the presence of the Circomedia, The Island and Unit 15 training centres, companies such as Arcadia, Cirque Bijou, Desperate Men and the Invisible Circus, and the high % of skilled performers who live here. Circus City’s 5th festival in the city aims to build on this reputation by inviting Bristol and beyond to see the best new and adventurous work by local and international performers.

She added: “In all, we’ll be presenting 28 performances involving more than 35 artists alongside a range of special industry events and so offering choices to suit all ages and interests.” –

The festival will open on Sunday 1 October with a launch party at Dareshack, Wine Street, Bristol, featuring the world premiere of THESE THINGS AREN’T MINE, a performance film, directed by Barney White and acrobatic dancer Gabbie Cook combining physical theatre, circus and dance.

Circus City is a biennial event based in Bristol, UK. Its principal funders are Arts Council England, using funds raised by the National Lottery, Bristol City Council, the Quartet Foundation, West of England Combined Authority and Circus Change Up.

Main image: Laura Murphy A Spectacle of Herself

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