Circus is Evolving in the COVID Era with Reopenings and Isolation
7 months into COVID closures we’ve learned how to teach and perform from home, over Zoom and social media, and in some cases it’s made the world smaller — connecting people to those you normally wouldn’t get to work with, or see shows that may not come to your area. We’re all finding our footing as we return to in-person training after breaks and as spaces reopen with various changes to capacity and extra safety precautions.
Zoppe is back on the road with drive-in circus experiences in California. The whole show is viewable from inside the safety of personal vehicles. Seoul saw their first drive-in circus experiences also in September with a limit of 30 cars per show at the Seoul Street Art Creation Centre.
Midnight Circus completed their yearly summer tour of Chicago parks without their tent to allow for more distancing to watch the action in the ring. Nimble Arts produced “Circus in Place,” a two-day outdoor festival last weekend, connecting circus performances to the land, including a narrative about how to read the land as told by a Vermont Land Trust Representative along the walk to the performance spaces.
We’re starting to see shows with performers back in venues, streaming live video while it’s not yet safe to have audiences in the US. CircEsteem in Chicago live-streamed their gala of acts shot in the school, with all performers wearing masks and following safety protocols in mid-September. We can hope more shows like this will be announced as restrictions are lifted. In the past couple weeks, tours are being announced in countries with lower numbers of infections and performers have been called back to work.
In other good news during the pandemic, Circus Smirkus ran all summer after having all participating families (60 campers for 5 weeks) and coaches self-isolate before arrival and following safety precautions until the sealed bubble was certain it was COVID-free. By the later weeks they were able to relax distancing and masks to work on skills many people haven’t been able to since before the pandemic. Another silver lining of that bubble was the formation of the collective Search for Sumatra, a group of circus and theatre artists. They streamed their first production the first week of October and ticket sales were used to fund scholarships for minority students for Smirkus in 2021. The show will be rebroadcast via Circus Talk on October 31st.
article by Christine Denker