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Doorstep Circus

“Thank you so much for the circus visit, it was absolutely brilliant!” – Fay (visited by Jamie and Ellissa)

This year feels like a particularly special edition of the festival, not only because of working to overcome all the obvious obstacles live events are facing this year, but also because that in our efforts to make this years Circus City happen we have forged stronger partnerships with artists than ever before.

Our Respond commissions have enabled us to support Bristol artists emerging from the pandemic to innovate in this environment, exploring new ways to build connection, by working outdoors and making work with and for communities.

This week Respond Artist Maddie McGowan took her Doorstep Circus Project to Bristol streets for the first time. In partnership with the Beehive Centre, six circus performers and one circus dog visited the homes of older people in East Bristol who had responded to special postal invitations over the past month.

The sun was out and jugglers Toby Walker, Pascal Haring and Jon Udry, duo-acrobats Ellissa Rose and Jamie Double, and comedian Em Puddy and her musical dog Raoul performed one to one, family and neighbourhood spectaculars on doorsteps and in front gardens and cul-de-sacs. Each performer visited three locations and had time for a chat and a cup of tea after the shows. They ended the day with a finale group cabaret in the gardens of the Beehive centre community hub and almshouses, attended by residents, local people and their families.

Over the year to come the performers will have postcard exchanges and follow up phone calls with those that they visited, extending the impact of the project beyond the performances.

Look out for an exhibition of photos from the day as part of the circus city programme Sep 30th – October 16th.

The Beehive Centre is a fully accessible community hub and meeting place adjacent to St Georges Park. We aim to reduce social isolation and loneliness in the community, by offering a wide range of daily activities, for mixed ages and abilities, that promote positive health and wellbeing.

Maddie McGowan is a performance maker and educator based in Bristol, with a strong interest in socially engaged art. She has performed for many physical theatre and circus companies at home and abroad and directed and devised physical theatre, participatory arts projects, and projects with young people.