Roll up! Roll up!
There’s no need to run away to the circus this summer – it’s come home to Norwich and Yarmouth
Acavalcade of jugglers, acrobats, clowns and horse-riders piled into a circle drawn on wasteland in London exactly 250 years ago. In a blaze of colour and noise they wowed onlookers with their gravity-defying tricks and stunts. It was the world’s first circus.
Now Norwich and Yarmouth are among six circus centres across Britain chosen to celebrate the anniversary.
Yarmouth has Britain’s only surviving total circus building, the 115-year-old Hippodrome, and Norwich’s circus credentials include being the birthplace, in 1810, of Britain’s first black circus proprietor, Pablo Fanque (who also gets a mention in Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.)
Today Norwich is also the home of Lost in Translation and the Oak Circus Centre. Based in the former medieval church of St Miles on Oak Street, the circus companies feature performers and teachers from around the world. Co-director Massimiliano Rossetti grew up in Rome and began his career as a street performer before studying at circus schools in Madrid and London.
His own circus school puts together circus shows as well as running classes for adults and children in disciplines including trapeze, hula hooping and acrobatics.
And from July 11 to 15, Lost in Translation has invited performers and shows from around the world to wow audiences in a big top in Chapelfield Gardens, Norwich, to celebrate the 250th anniversary of circus.
“From our Norwich base we have travelled the world to perform and now we’re bringing the circus world to the city,” said Massmiliano.
Lost in Translation’s own show The Hogwallops has been performed across England and at the Edinburgh Fringe, Italy and Ireland, but never before in Norwich.
The comedy adventures of a chaotic family, inspired by Roald Dahl’s The Twits, are told with heart-stopping aerial and floor acrobatics and live music.
St Miles is one of 18 city centre churches looked after by the Norwich Historic Churches Trust and has had a series of uses including theatrical scenery storage, a youth club gym and a science centre, before its soaring vaulting and ancient walls, decorated outside in glorious flint flushwork, began ringing with all the high flying fun of circus.
Oak Street Circus manager Alessandra Lacaita said: “It’s such an amazing, beautiful, creative space. People love it. It gives good vibes. And of course it’s very high inside which is perfect for practising and performing our shows.”
ABOVE: The Lost In Translation Circus Company in their new home, St Michael of Coslany. Massimiliano Rossetti, Annabel Carberry, right, Roisin Morris, and Eduardo Ricciardelli, left