Circus Performers covers two distinct mediums, Tented Circus and Street Theatre, both of which are very popular within the UK events industry.
Tented Circus is deeply rooted in British tradition and has changed very little since the nineteenth century; performers in a tented circus each have individual skills with their repertoires occupying distinct 5 minute slots within a very traditional format.
Street Theatre, on the other hand, takes the performers into contact with the audience. Performances are longer, around 30 minutes, and the repertoires are more flexible. A performer in street theatre will be skilled in a number of circus acts and will incorporate all into his or her personal show. Human statues, jugglers, stilt walkers and mime artists all work particularly well in street theatre.
Tented circus is successful at an event that lasts for a day, such as a charity fete, or for the benefit of children at a wedding reception. The flexibility and diversity of street theatre performers' routines means that they can also be incorporated into almost any type of corporate event. It is increasingly the case that bookings for circus performers request a certain theme, such as Victoriana or the Medieval Ages. The corporate events entertainers will tailor the act appropriately, even designing specialist costumes if required.
Although it is an ancient art form, the world of circus performers is by no means static. New electric props, such as illuminated poi, have revolutionised traditional stunts and innovative ideas are constantly being developed within the industry. Hat manipulation is new to repertoires across the country and the hula hoop, in particular, is presently enjoying a resurgence.
If you plan to involve members of the public, perhaps in a circus skills workshop, it is imperative that you check that the company has public liability insurance. Fortunately, all companies that are members of Equity, the trade union for the Arts and Entertainment Industry, will automatically possess this. Rigging is also a consideration that cannot be overlooked, especially in tented circus where a poorly constructed trapeze can prove fatal. For this reason, we advise you to enquire whether the contractors responsible for rigging your event are affiliated with RICSAT (Rigging in Circus Standards and Training), an organisation for circus professionals, dedicated to ensuring the highest quality of construction.
Although this is hardly ever an issue in contemporary circus, some troupes may use animals in their acts, in which case, out of respect for audience sensitivities, you should consult the organisers about any animal welfare issues that may arise. The Association of Circus Proprietors is currently working with the British government to obtain standards of animal treatment in this practice.
The cost of hiring a circus performer varies enormously, depending on the extent to which the act has been customized to your event as well as the skills and training involved. Performers will give a set as short as 10 minutes while street entertainers would expect to be working as mix and mingle artists for the duration of the night. As a ball park figure, you can expect to pay between £200 and £600 for an act with tented circus fees being much greater.
This article was written by Kate Hodesdon of the Partyoffers events directory.
The author wishes to thank Aurora's Carnival for their invaluable insight into the role of the circus in the UK event industry
© 2006 Party Offers