Send in the clowns... the Big Top is back!
Nouveau, new, contemporary - call it as you will, the circus is back in style. Take a ringside seat as we enjoy all the traditional fun of one of the oldest shows on earth . . .
"When I was a child, the first time I saw the circus arrive, it was like an apparition in the night. Like a giant balloon that had landed without warning - there it was in front of my house in the morning, as if it had appeared from nowhere.."
from "Fellini TV. Director's Notebook. I clowns"
The circus, one of our oldest and best-loved forms of entertainment, is making a welcome comeback with its magical combination of acrobatics, tricks, dance and theatre all performed with a well-dosed mix of poetry and comedy. Renewed interest in the big top was reflected in this year's Venice Biennale (programme in Italian only, -ed.)which has a special section dedicated to circus arts as well as the exciting International Festival of Contemporary Circus (nouveau cirque, in French) which was recently held in Brescia. So, send in the clowns . . .
Italians in the ring
France was the first country to rediscover the wonder of the circus when, in 1985, Cultural Minister Jack Lang doubled government subsidies to circuses and financed related projects. Thanks to his initiative 80 circus schools were opened in France. Now, we in Italy are beginning to open our eyes to the delights of the big top, even though the only remaining circus school, the National Circus School in Cesanatico risks closure each year due to lack of financing. The school, which lasts five years, trains trapeze artists, jugglers, acrobats, ropedancers and contortionists all of whom dream of becoming the next David Larible, the most famous clown in the world. Larible, who despite his name is Italian, worked with household names such as the Togni and Medrano circuses before leaving for the United States and becoming a muse for filmmaker Woody Allen.
Another illustrious Italian abroad is the choreographer Francesca Lattuada, who is currently based in Paris. Lattuada choreographed "La Tribù iOta", the acclaimed tightrope and trapeze show produced by the Centre National des Arts du Cirque.
Not to speak of those who ably move from one circus to another, such as Livio Togni, lion trainer by trade and politician (in the ranks of the Italian left-wing party Rifondazione Comunista) by vocation. Togni, who sits on the 7th Permanent Commission (for education, cultural issues, scientific research, entertainment and sport), says that this renewed interest in the circus blows a welcome wind of change and can only help revive circuses as we know and love them.
And what article on the circuses would be complete without mentioning, Alessandro Serena, nephew of the great Moira Orfei, Italy's homespun circus superstar. Serena has devised his own show, Ombra di luna - which he co-produced with Venice Biennale and presented at the Brescia festival - dedicated to the Gilgamesh Epic and is a symbol of man's inner journey towards self-discovery and awareness.
The Greatest Show on Earth
Don't miss the show! Here are some of the top circuses playing throughout Italy in the following weeks:
Mestre (VE) Venice Biennale:
Ombra di luna Parco della Bissuola, from September 12th to 16th and 20th to 21st.
La baraque cantine musicale Parco della Bissuola, from September 13th to 18th and 24th to 27th
Tribù iOta (RomaEuropa Festival) Piazzale Villa Medici, from September 19th to 23rd
Teatro Gobetti Palazzina Stupinigi
Cirque Plume - from October 11th to 21st
Eclats Sol Air - from October 26th to 28th
IXBE - from November 30th to December 2nd
Le Grain - from December 14th to 16th
Casanova's Erotic Circus from the Compagnia de Calza "I Antichi" February 2002
Ladies and Gentlemen ItaliaPlease is proud to present the nouveau cirque. Join us on a virtual tour of the nouveau cirque as we go to Mantua for the Literature Festival and lend our eyes and ears to the amazing Cirque du Bidon