Jon Hicks & SJ Couzens & Gavin Marshall: Blake's Circus

Ideas Stage Work

Inspired by the fact that a young William Blake, the visionary poet and visual artist, was almost certainly present at Philip Astley’s groundbreaking original circus spectaculars of 1768 onwards, Blake’s Circus will be a celebration of the brilliance of both.
Astley’s ‘traditional’ circus show circa 1770’s will slowly melt into the imagination of young William and become enmeshed with his paintings and writings. Not linear narrative but comical characters and themes developed into visual images and Acts that echo like rhymes.
Action will spill out of the ring into the audience before, after and during the show.
The show will incorporate contemporaneous imagery and ideas from the period.
Gravity & Physics – the nemesis and ally of the circus performer, the rules of gravity were formulated by Newton, famously painted by Blake.
The Body - The Age of Enlightenment at this time sought a new relationship between Man and the Universe, celebrating the human form as a wonder in itself, not as a gift from god.
Animals – honouring Circus’s long association, but with a modern sensibility, using life-scale puppets to create Astley’s Horse and Blake’s Tyger.
Magical Mystical Miniature Men - the show will play with our sense of time, space and scale. For example imagine live projection on a set of silks bringing to life a tiny flea circus, operated by Bunraku puppet of child Blake. Ant-like flea becomes Blake’s Ghost of the Flea. Tiny plastic tigers and horses become life sized pieces of working art as our mini stage becomes a life sized ring and eventually a seeming galaxy of swirling fire.

Core creative team:
Gavin Marshall – Writer & Co-Director (Actor/Director/Choreogrpaher /Motion capture: Head of Motion capture team on Spielberg’s Ready Player One; Warner Bros’ Jungle Book & Animal Farm; Circus Choreographer Dhoom 3 (Bollywood); Performer/Choreographer/Asst Director Royal Shakespeare Company for 12 productions
SJ Couzens – Producer & Co-Director (Aerialist with Improbable Theatre’s Sticky, Producer for Mischief La-Bas, Street Theatre Company)
Jon Hicks – Clown & Artist (Solo Shows include: The International Man of Artistry and Curioddity; Core member of award winning variety troupe, Slightly Fat Features and The Crack cabaret show).
Alex Rigg – Designer & Costumier, (Artistic Director/Maker for his company Oceanallover

The aim is to make an accessible and beautiful Circus Show, fun and fabulous, challenging and curious but purposely popular.

Current state of project

The core creative team will meet for three days R & D at end of May 2017 at the creation centre in Auchenstroan, Dumfries & Galloway (subject to funding from Creative Scotland – the Scottish Arts Council) to formulate and clarify the intentions, form and content of Blake’s Circus. This is with a view to developing the Show to be tour ready in 2018/19.

Looking for
Co-commissioning, Development Time, Funding Advice, Marketing and Promotional Support, Pre-bookings, Production Support, Rehearsal Space, Residency Advice, Space in Kind

Set / rigging & technical details

42 ft circus ring as the stage with a 4m diameter circular rigging bar with a cross beam through it (A 'hot cross bun rig) at 10m above floor.

Mix of Recorded and Live
Min width
Min depth
Min height
Full tech spec
Lighting plan
Get-in / get-out
Requires tech support for get-in
Performers / crew on tour