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Marking 250 years of circus with an exciting selection of contemporary performances

The Civic are bringing the big top to Barnsley town centre. Marking 250 years of circus they have some marvellous circus shows tumbling in. There will be show stopping acrobatics, aerial circus storytelling, slick choreography and humour, juggling, rhythm and so much more to take your breath away.

250 years ago the very first circus happened here in Great Britain – on an abandoned patch of land near London’s Waterloo. Philip Astley, a showman, entrepreneur and equestrian rider drew a circle in the ground which he filled with astounding physical acts. This spectacle was the world’s very first circus.

What Astley created was a whole new art form. “His 42 foot ring, the dazzling combination of jugglers, acrobats, clowns, strong men, bareback riders… Every circus, anywhere, began at this moment in 1768.”

Museums, film makers, designers, theatres, and more are marking this celebration. The Civic has programmed a series of special events to mark the occasion and has already treated South Yorkshire audiences to some amazing street performances by Kapow, a parkour and physical theatre troupe who climbed around the town as part of The Mayor’s Parade, The Tour De Yorkshire and Tramlines.

This weekend will launch the new season and continue the circus theme as The Civic hosts its annual free event, The Civic Garden Party, in which 5 acts will perform to audiences in a relaxed atmosphere. The day will include circus from Artizani Street Theatre who perform a delightful one man show on a slackrope with a surreal finale and MarkMark Productions who blend cabaret, circus and clowning in an uproarious celebration of early 70’s entertainment. Greentop Circus will also provide free circus workshops to all ages.

The Civic Garden Party is on Saturday 15 September at 11:00am to 3:30pm

Free Admission


After the season has officially launched, South Yorkshire audiences can look forward to 4 more awesome performances of strength, wonder and beauty with circus shows throughout the year.

In September, award winning circus troupe Barely Methodical Troupe who have performed internationally as far as New York and Sao Paolo will be in Barnsley for two performances of Shift. This is an explosive display of acrobatics that will challenge gravity; alter perspectives; and spin your head around.

The latest show from Barely Methodical Troupe features their trademark performance style combining show-stopping acrobatics with the emotional punch of theatre. Four extraordinary performers test their physical limits in an tense display of power-based acrobatics.

Using string games, rubber bands, story telling and all available resources they attempt to take some control of their space. Shift features core company members, big man Louis Gift and international cyr wheeling star Charlie Wheeller, working with Spain’s leading break dancer Elihu Vazquez and top Swedish acrobat and flyer Esmeralda Nikolajeff.

“daring, beautiful, breathtaking… pure magic” Whatsonstage

Shift is on Thursday 20 September and Friday 21 September at 7:30pm.

Tickets £13 | £11 conc | £8 child


October features two meaningful pieces of circus. Firstly Oddly Moving Company, present a touching new physical theatre production titled He Ain’t Heavy.

Performer Grania Pickard tells the story of growing up with her disabled autistic brother Sean using physical theatre, aerial circus, audience interaction and storytelling. Through puppetry, the audience see how Sean walks, talks and interacts with the world and how his unique take on life has shaped and influenced Grania.

When people ask me about my brother I usually give them the short answer; he has severe learning disabilities, epilepsy and autism. He Ain't Heavy is the long answer.” Grania Pickard, Oddly Moving Artistic Director and Performer

He Ain’t Heavy is on Wednesday 3 October at 1:30pm & 7:30pm.

Tickets £12 | £10 conc | £8 child


Secondly, after successfully touring all over Europe, Catalan company Eia bring their award winning acrobatic theatre piece inTarsi to the UK for the first time.

Breath-taking acrobatic skills combined with wit, humour and slick choreography make this show a perfect mix for all the family. It’s four guys hanging out, teasing and playing with each other, sometimes they work together and sometimes against each other.

InTarsi asks question about how people relate to each other every day, how we can be lonely in a crowd or feel completely connected when we’re all alone. It does so in a light-hearted way. The performers’ bond with audiences old and young alike by creating reflections that we can all recognize ourselves in.

“a roller coaster of tension and adrenaline, of nervousness and expectation” Barcelona Reviews

InTarsi is on Friday 19 October at 7:30pm.

Tickets £12 | £10 conc | £8 child


November is time for Sigma, Gandini Juggling’s beautiful new show exploring the creative edge between juggling, geometry and classical Indian dance. This show is a criss-cross of rhythmic light in which the four women blend elegant wizz-kidness with cheeky bravura.

Gandini Juggling have a reputation for innovation, pushing the boundaries of their art form by combining dance and rhythm into their shows. Sigma is designed to engage in a dialogue with the viewer, transcending cultural barriers and stimulating imaginations. Sigma premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival August 2017 where Gandini Juggling won a Herald Archangel as recognition for their work over the last 25 years.

With multimedia projections complimenting the onstage action costume design to add a depth and texture this show is a spectacular new cross art-from production showcasing patterns and colours.

“Sigma is not your usual juggling show and is all the better for it” Broadway Baby

Sigma is on Thursday 1 November at 7:30pm.

Tickets £13 | £11 conc | £8 child