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Skin Deep Circus
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Skin Deep Circus

‘The real thing would quite clearly cause outrage’ –The Guardian

being a highly unusual and interesting spectacle for your interest and amusement

In a small shabby circus tent, a fantastic collection of strange,
weird and wonderful puppets perform their acts in a timeless sideshow


The acts:
Ivan Ivanitch’s Flying Fleas
OUR CAVALCADE OF INSECT BEAUTIES WILL DELIGHT AND AMAZE. THEIR NIMBLE STEPS AND
STUNNING ROUTINES ARE BASED ON THE ROUTINES PERFORMED BY 1920 SHOWGIRLS.
FLEA CIRCUS HAD A GOLDEN AGE IN THE, 1830'S WHEN L. BERTOLOTTO SETUP THE FIRST
FEATURING A FLEA ORCHESTRA, FLEAS DANCING IN DRESSES AND EVEN FLEAS PULLLING MINIATURE COACHES.
FLEA CIRCUSES LATER BECAME A FEATURE OF CARNIVALS & SIDESHOWS WORLDWIDE.

Sammy Stonehead
OUR TRAGIC CLOWN IN THE STYLE OF BUSTER KEATON. BASED ON ELEPHANT MAN, JOSEPH MERRICK.
SAMMY WAS FOUND UNDERNEATH BRIGHTON PIER, IN A RIGHT MESS. LADIES & GENTLEMEN WE HAVE LOVINGLY RESTORED HIM TO HIS FORMER GLORY FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT AND DELIGHT. WATCH IN AMAZEMENT AS HE PERFORMS “THE NAIL!” NOT FOR THE FAINT HEARTED & PLEASE DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.

Caroline Crachami, The Sicilian Dwarf Fairy
THE WORLDS SMALLEST WOMAN! THE ORIGINAL LIVING DOLL. BEFORE TOM THUMB WAS MADE
POPULAR BY P.T. BARNUM THERE WAS THE "SICILIAN DWARF FAIRY", CAROLINE.
BORN IN PALMERO ITALY IN 1815 AT A TIME WHEN UNUSUAL ATTRIBUTES WERE KEPT HIDDEN AWAY.
A DR GILLIGAN, AN IRISHMAN POSING AS HER FATHER, EXHIBITED HER IN THE EXCLUSIVE SALONS
OF LONDON. NEARLY THREE THOUSAND DISTINGUISHED FASHIONABLES INCLUDING ROYALTY MADE THEIR
WAY TO EXAMINE THE GIRL WHOSE 19’ HEIGHT,“STRANGE UNEARTHLY VOICE” AND
AUTOMATA-LIKE MANNER EXERTED A STRANGE FASCINATION OVER HER MALE VISITORS.
ALREADY WORN OUT BY MONTHS OF BEING GAWPED AT, SHE DIED IN JUNE 1824 AFTER
BEING TAKEN FROM HER ROOM EXHAUSTED BY 200 VISITS IN ONE DAY ANDSUFFERING FROM TB.
HER SKELETON IS STILL ON DISPLAY AT THE HUNTERIAN MUSEUM IN LINCOLN’S INN FIELDS, LONDON.

The Fiji Mermaid
IN OUR AQUATIC WATER EXTRAVAGANZA!
HALF MONKEY HALF FISH THESE EXOTIC WONDERS WERE RIPLEY & BARNUM’S FAVOURITE ODDITIES.
SAID TO BE EFFIGIES FOUND ON THE FIJI ISLANDS, WE HAVE THE ONLY LIVING SPECIMEN!
THE DEEP SEA DIVA, PERFORMING FOR YOUR OPERATIC DELIGHT, AN ARIA FROM ‘MADAM BUTTERFLY!’

Chang & Eng, The Siamese Twins
BORN IN 1829 & DISCOVERED BY A SCOTTS MERCHANT THEY FOUND FAME & FORTUNE IN IN
AMERICA TOURING AS “THE UNITED BROTHERS” A BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP WITH BARNUM
TURNED SOUR AND THEY MANAGED THEMSELVES ONCE MORE. THEY MARRIED TWO
SISTERS & FATHERED 21 CHILDREN. CHANG THE ALCOHOLIC DIED IN 1874 & WITHIN
4 HOURS ENG JOINED HIM IN DEATH.

Josephine, the Amazing Rubber Lady
BORN IN POVERTY IN AMERICA, SHE TRAVELLED TO PARIS.
SHE BECAME AN OVERNIGHT SENSATION DANCING IN LA FOLIE DU JOUR AND
LA REVUE NEGRE. MIXING THE ELASTICITY OF HER DANCE WITH CLASSIC
COMIC TIMING, SHE WAS ALSO A SENSATIONAL SINGER.
IN WW2 SHE WORKED FOR THE RESISTANCE & ADOPTED A TRIBE OF RAINBOW CHILDREN.

These extraordinary characters are based on real life and imaginary men and women from the past and far from the ordinary. DNA have researched the phenomenon of the fairground sideshow, which provided both a refuge and a centre of exploitation for a variety of characters who for various reasons courted publicity. Some were ruthlessly exploited by relatives and showmen for a fast profit; others chose the course of the public spectacle as a way of turning their uniqueness into an advantage. The hardship of the travelling fair exposed both the strength and vulnerability of these people, and provided both a freedom and an imprisonment.

The circus tent that frames the action is the perfect metaphor for the dilemma of the show presented in ‘Skin Deep Circus’. Appearing to be a protection and a framework, it is a flimsy construct, easily torn apart by outside elements, exposing the sheltering inhabitants to the unknown forces in the big wide world. Would they be strong enough to survive?

This production previewed at the BAC Visual Theatre Festival 1999, London with a small-scale intimate performance to an audience of twenty five in a tent. Development since has included touring to international festivals and a comprehensive education programme. Further development of this performance took place in February 2002 at the Horse and Bamboo centre, Rossendale Lancs. Bob Frith, Artistic Director of Horse and Bamboo, directed the development, resulting in a national tour in October 2002 culminating in a special performance in the Fellows Room of the Science Museum, London, as part of their Naked Science Season supported by the Wellcome Trust.

In Summer 2003, we were delighted to be invited to the international poppentheater festival in Dordrecht, Holland.

Since then, the performance has developed into a 20min sideshow that creates a unique atmosphere wherever it goes, outdoors in it's own bespoke weatherproof marquee or as a short performance for events. This performance has featured at the Xtrax Garden of Delights, Manchester, and National Theatre London as part of the 'Watch this Space' season in 2004

In Summer 2007, we were proud to present this performance at the Aarhus Festival, Denmark.

Puppeteers: Rachel Riggs, Adam Bennett, Gaby Parker / Jonny Dixon
Musician/Ringmaster: Danny Schlesinger/ Sian de Lier
Design/Puppets: Teresa Grimaldi, Rachel Riggs, Gaby Parker
Video: Rosa Parkin
Originally devised by the company

 

Booking Information

Ages For ages 12 and upwards
Running time 20 minutes
Suitable venues street events, fairgrounds, victorian events, outdoor events, indoor events
Availability By negotiation
   

"inhabits territory between Todd Brownings 'Freaks', early Blackpool promenade sideshows and the Elephant Man...A thought provoking and disturbing exercise in modern puppetry" The Stage

All text and images © Dynamic New Animation 2005