The Catalan poet and dramatist Joan Brossa (1919-1998) wrote on more than one occasion that the tastiest fruit of the theatre does not hang from the word. Appealing to the experiences of Vsevolod Meyerhold, Brossa considered it essential for the theatre to pay attention to performing arts like the circus, conjuring, puppets or clowns. Swinging always between the popular and the avant-garde, Brossa was virtually the only intellectual to give public and unconditional support to the gestation and birth of key structures like the Circ Cric (1978), la Fira de Teatre al Carrer de Tàrrega (1981) and the Festival Internacional de Pallassos de Cornellà Memorial Charlie Rivel (1984), three events that are now fully consolidated. Joan Brossa reminds us that the vitality of the performing arts is created spontaneously in the street, like the markets of the Middle Ages and the Commedia dell’Arte.
The frantic activity of Catalan circus and the aesthetic singularity of its productions have made Catalonia the obligatory point of reference in Southern Europe. The international impact of La Central del Circ (through programmes like Cir-que-o, Trans-Mission and others) generates exchange and the multiplication of ideas. For their part, the companies grow in quality and quantity: as an example, the unusual proposals of Circ Pànic, Zahir Circo, Botproject, Estropicio or Escarlata Circus, and the special comicality of clowns Leandre, Alba Sarraute, Adrian Schvarzstein o Pepa Plana (since 2012 in Amaluna, Cirque du Soleil).
The first contemporary Catalan circus show was premiered in 1976 (TripijocJocTrip, of the company La Tràgica). Contemporary circus in Catalonia thus began prior to the Australian Circus Oz (1978), before the definitive consolidation of the French Nouveau Cirque and much earlier than the appearance of Cirque du Soleil (1984). Tortell Poltrona’s Circ Cric first pitched its travelling tent in 1981. Contemporary Catalan circus is characterized by its solar energy, unfettered spontaneity, creative freedom and empathetic cheerfulness, so typical of the Mediterranean.
Catalan circus was given a definitive boost in 2004 with the founding of the Associació de Professionals de Circ de Catalunya (APCC), which in 2008 created and ran the creative factory La Central del Circ. In collaboration with the Departament de Cultura de la Generalitat, the APCC and the Institut Ramon Llull, it has drafted the Pla Integral de Circ (2008-2012), which is attempting to improve aspects such as artist training, production, exhibition circuits, and also to consolidate structures and centres of creation like the Escola de Circ Rogelio Rivel, the Ateneu Popular Nou Barris, La Central del Circ, Roca Umbert, Cronopis, Tub d’Assaig, La Crica,Centre de Recerca de les Arts del Circ (CRAC) or L’Estruch.
Catalonia organizes the international circus festivals Fira de Circ de La Bisbal, Trapezi, Curtcirckit, Festival de Pallassos de Cornellà Memorial Charlie Rivel, Pallassòdrom and Festival 1, 2, 3 del pallasso. Some generalist festivals include circus: FiraTàrrega, Grec, Festes de la Mercè, Temporada Alta i Festival de Teatre Còmic Ple de Riureamong others. Several facilities, publicly owned or state-assisted, include circus in their regular programmes: Teatre Nacional de Catalunya, Teatre Lliure and Mercat de les Flors-Centre de les Arts del Moviment (Barcelona), Kursaal (Manresa), Teatre Principal (Olot), La Paeria (Lleida), Auditori (Granollers), and others.
As regards communication, the specialist magazine Zirkólika acts as a catalyst for the activities of the circus sector and reflects its current international situation.
The frantic activity of Catalan circus and the aesthetic singularity of its productions have made Catalonia the obligatory point of reference in Southern Europe
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