On the summer of 2021 Crying Out Loud and Take Art decided to embark on a journey together to bring high quality, small-scale, family friendly circus shows to villages in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, and Somerset. The project also aimed to explore the potential for circus artists to extend their reach by utilising the rural arts network.
Circus Around and About travelled through rural communities and delighted audiences young and old in beautiful outdoor settings. The artists performed in a variety of interesting locations ranging from stunning beaches to the grounds of stately homes. Four companies, Pirates of the Carabina, Simple Cypher, Tilly Lee-Kronick and Company Zid, were touring together, performing in different combinations to deliver an exciting and varied programme.
“The show was fantastic, really high quality and entertaining. Great fun for ages 3–93 and the whole of the community was really engaged. I felt the performance being outside added an extra dimension of togetherness, everyone appreciating the beautiful setting, the weather and being able to mingle safely in the interval and after the show.”Audience member
All the touring artists had a very positive experience. Visiting different locations, performing open-air presented them with a whole new perspective and brought them closer to their audience.
The members of Simple Cypher enjoyed feeling part of a community and relished the constraints imposed on performing in an outdoor setting with no lights and minimum staging. The experience felt deeper and more meaningful for them than touring to black box theatres one after another.
“I liked the lack of tech. The lighting is whatever the daylight is. It is down to you as a performer to work with those variables. There is a nice dynamic with the audience. It is all quite freeing. It makes every show fresh. Every setting is completely different. Black box theatres are all the same. The only thing that changes is the audience. We performed in places with incredible views or a council playground. You don’t get that variety in indoor performances.”Thorne (Simple Cypher)
Tilly Lee-Kronick welcomed having some of the control taken away and knowing that every performance was going to be different. It taught her to be more in the moment and made her feel more connected to her audience.
Company Zid liked traveling to different locations and enjoyed the wide variety of reactions from their audiences.
Pirate Taxi by Pirates of the Carabina was created especially for the Circus Around & About project. Shaena Brandel, one of the company’s joint Artistic Directors and a performer in the show, was very grateful to both Crying Out Loud and Take Art for supporting them to create a new piece of work.
The overall response from the audiences, regional touring schemes, and local promoters was very positive. They agreed the tour was well-organised and sensitive to local needs. The outdoor setting provided a safe and relaxed environment for people to socialise, re-connect and enjoy high quality entertainment. The success of this pilot project shows there’s a huge amount of positivity and enthusiasm to continue to develop and present circus for rural touring in the future.