Reinventing circus for new generations and audiences at this year’s Brighton Festival

Reinventing circus for new generations and audiences at this year’s Brighton Festival

This year’s Brighton Festival hosts ground-breaking contemporary circus performances which push the boundaries of the art form to include new audiences and inspire future generations to take up circus skills.

Acrobats from Australia’s exhilarating Circa ensemble will stage the UK premiere of their mesmerising new show, Sacre at the Theatre Royal Brighton from 23-28 May. Considered the ‘rock stars of the circus world’, Circa’s stunning physical virtuosity consistently blurs the boundaries between movement, dance, theatre and circus.

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In a highly dramatic production from Artistic Director Yaron Lifschitz, Sacre explores human connection, sexual desire and our relationship with the divine. Set against a soundtrack of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and a stirring new composition from contemporary French composer Philipe Bachman, Sacre uses poetic tenderness, raw emotion and remarkable physical strength to draw audiences into a show full tension and dark humour. Liftschitz explains the aim of the show is to make the audience ‘sit for an hour and be too tense to draw breath’ and Sacre was hailed as ‘a performance of its generation’ by critics during a recent US tour.

Circa are at the forefront of the new wave of contemporary circus pioneers, using extreme physicality to create powerful and moving performances that draw in new audiences and new converts to the genre. Their on-going commitment to foster the next generation of ground-breaking circus artists has seen the company set up public circus programmes in their home town of Melbourne.

Echoing this approach to new possibilities in circus are the UK’s Extraordinary Bodies, who present their latest work Human at Brighton Dome on 25 May. Celebrating a decade of multi-disciplinary shows featuring D/deaf, disabled, and non-disabled artists, Extraordinary Bodies combine music, film, and theatre in a truly inclusive form of circus designed for every body. Their passion for embedding accessibility extends to using sign language interpretation, captioning and audio description throughout their productions.

Human emerged from the pandemic when the performers began sharing stories around the meaning and uncertainty of being human. Incorporating circus, live music and film this hopeful, intimate and funny performance relives childhood memories and life-changing moments via an innovative trapeze performance combining a wheelchair, floor work on hands and aerial dance duets. Live and recorded sound plays through silent disco headphones, creating an intimate relationship between performers and audience.

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Earlier on 25 May, a performance entitled Till We Win will showcase the work Extraordinary Bodies Young Artists – their training performing arts company for disabled and non-disabled 16 to 30-year-olds to include young people who may traditionally have experienced barriers to participation in the arts. Till We Win is a joyous story about those who are often unheard making big changes to save the place they love, mixing anarchic theatre, circus, dance and original music.

Brighton Festival is celebrating a return to full-capacity audiences in 2022 with an extensive international programme of more than 150 events taking place across Sussex from 7-29 May.

For the first time this year, Brighton Festival welcomes two Guest Co-Directors, Syrian architect and author Marwa Al-Sabouni and Tristan Sharps, Artistic Director of Brighton-based theatre makers dreamthinkspeak. Marwa and Tristan have chosen the theme of Rebuilding as the inspiration for this year’s programme, exploring it from two different yet complementary perspectives.

For full details of the Brighton Festival 2022 programme visit