Circus is to get its first dedicated venue at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, as Underbelly takes over the Meadows area previously occupied by the Ladyboys of Bangkok.
Circus Hub will run from August 7 to 29 in two big top-style tents, the Lafayette and the Beauty, which have capacities of 750 and 250 respectively. The 12 shows will alternate start times between them so that there will always be one show running during opening hours, 11.25am to midnight.
The site previously hosted long-running fringe act the Ladyboys of Bangkok, but Underbelly successfully entered a bid for the space in February this year.
Underbelly directors Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood told The Stage that the idea for the hub had come out of conversations they have had with circus companies around the world, combined with the growing appetite for circus from fringe audiences.
They said that Circus Hub solved two major problems for circus acts at the fringe – big commercial touring companies needing a producing partner to carry some of the risk and other fringe venues not being designed for the technical requirements of circus.
Planned performances range from European premieres by Canadian company Cirque Alfonse, with Barbu, to narrative-driven pieces from Czech company Cirk La Putyka with Dolls.
Charlie Wood said: “Hopefully artists will come out and engage and talk to audiences about their shows. Bringing it to one area allows it to have an energy and a drive and engage audiences.”
Besides the performances, Edinburgh’s new circus centre Full Cirqle will be staging circus workshops from 9am.
Bartlam said: “It is about creating an environment where it is not just about the shows and watching the shows – as important as that is – but where circus is the number one focus.
“It is doing workshops, it is doing Q&As with circus performers and directors, we are also probably going to do some open rehearsal sessions in the morning so people can come and watch some of the casts in the shows warm up. It is about the whole environment and everything that is around that core programme of 12 shows.”