Pagan Circus Mathew Adkins

This work is based on the poem ‘Pagan Circus’ by Rose Dodd and the circus paintings of Frantisek Tichy. Tichy (1896-1961) was obsessed with the circus both as a phenomenon and the figures in it. In Tichy’s paintings, ‘The performers of these capricci have deformed faces, mushroom faces, elongated, bruised, nightmare faces, faces that melt into wicked sneers…In the end tomfoolery merges with Grand-Guignol and lowering Prague becomes a satanic circus in which clowns flaunting bugbear mugs turn every act into a lugubrious rite, send us to the devil, to eternal fire, in ignem aeternum.’ The idea of the circus being a satanic or ‘dark’ rite is also to be found in Rose Dodd’s poem, Pagan Circus. This poem was inspired by a performance given by La Fura del Baus in Frankfurt, 1990. This group combines ‘circus’ and physical-theatre to create a ‘circus-of-cruelty’. By allowing the audience into the performing arena the notion of ‘safety’ is overturned leading to a heightened sense of physical experience. The work Pagan Circus attempts to take an intense physical experience and manifest it as an intense psychological expression.

Source: 2004

  • Year of composition: 1996
  • Duration of the submitted work: 14:33
  • Production: University East Anglia

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