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CIRCUSCAMP '98 Spectacle From Scratch
CircusCamp'98 was an incredible success! Fifty participants and eleven staff spent 9 days training and living together on 20 acres of gorgeous farmland. Though the living conditions were "rustic" we ate slept and played hard and created an amazing circus performance in only 6 days!! We had a 60' x 60' "bigtop" (really a festival tent), incredible gourmet vegetarian food prepared 3 times a day by the most wonderful Tom Cohen, a Klezmer band headed by our music facilitator, Ted Dzielak, and a trapeze rigged between two trees in the forest and nightly forrays to the two wonderful open air bathtubs, heated from below by woodfire.
Daniel Gulko of Circus Pocheros (France) offered a core workshop in clowning and physical theatre, Jennifer Miller of Circus Amok (new York) taught Circus 101: acrobatics, juggling and ropes for idiots, Linet Andrea (France) trained people on the trapeze and Nathan Scott of Cry of the Rooster Theatre (Seattle) lead a core workshop on puppetry and pageantry. In addition to these intensive workshops K.Ruby of Wise Fool taught stiltwalking, fire skills and shadow puppetry, David Godsey of Umo offered the basics of stage presence and improvisation, Jack Magai taught a dance improvisation class and Eileen Hartwings worked with the kids, bringing them to work with the core facilitators and working up clowning schticks with them.
On the day of the circus we opened the land up to visitors at 11 am. As people trickled in they were offered workshops and sideshows lead and performed by circus camp participants. Giggly Sprout taught a clowning class called "giggle castle glass bubble" (I think that's how it was) and Zoe performed as the amazing and vicious Worm Girl. We also had a beautiful stand where guests could buy organic veggies and a concessions booth offering tacos, popcorn and home-made fry bread.
By 2 pm or so a crowd of 200 people had gathered. We started a lively procession through the land with stiltwalkers, giant puppets, clown, acrobats and jugglers. The crowd was lead into the forest where they first witnessed aerial spectacles on the trapeze, ropes and a flying bicycle! They were then lead back through forest and feild to the big top, where they enjoyed a full-on circus show lasting nearly 2 hours! The show featured juggling, acrobatics, clowning, mime, contortionism, politics, satire, music and audience participation. The audience was stellar. They laughed and applauded and wereright with us through the entire show. Afterwards they heartily partook of concessions and general mirth!
At the present time, the coordinators (aka the ring-master co-facilitation team) are not planning to host another year of circus camp. We had a wonderful time AND it was a lot of work. If you are interested in hosting a similar event, feel free to contact us for information and support. We would be glad to share a bit more of our experiences!
CLICK HERE to see photos of CircusCamp.
CircusCamp '98 was the inspiration of members of two non-profit community organizations, who have collaborated together over the years. The five member core production staff represent over 80 years experience in teaching, group facilitation, collective process, event planning and organizing, food prep for large events, publicity, promotion and arts administration.
WAIL (Where Art Is Living) Collective, based at PRAG Tree Farm, is comprised of six core members and a great deal of community support. WAILÕs mission is to create a space where art and agriculture coexist. They are dedicated to caring for the land, promoting intentional community, sustainable living and experiential education, living ethically through creative land use and low impact building practices and providing space for diverse groups to develop politically and artistically. WAIL is a member of the Evergreen Land Trust which has more than 60 members and has been in existence for over 25 years.
WISE FOOL Community Arts is a non profit arts organization dedicated to creative action, celebration and change. In the traditions of public spectacle and processional theatre, Wise Fool combines giant puppetry, mask, stiltdancing, wild costumes, circus skills, movement, fire and song to create highly participatory, issue-oriented outdoor theatre that is accessible to all. In addition to producing original full length theatre works, Wise Fool visually supports a wide range of causes and organizations and offers workshops in puppetry arts, stiltwalking and processional theatre. Wise Fool's intention is to use art as a vehicle for community building, education and self-determination.