12 years ago when I went to study circus at university there was a reading week but no reading list, either required or recommended. I don’t know if there’s one now but I thought it would be an interesting challenge to come up with my own list.
The following consist of things I wish I’d been more aware of before taking my degree. My list would have given me things I lacked in 2005 (and perhaps still do).
Some entries provide a wider understanding of circus and related activities such as side-show and magic. I have not included books on the history of theatre or dance as they were included in the course syllabus. For some inextricable reason, the history of circus was not covered on the course. Others entries on the list are featured as an attempt to deepen the students’ knowledge of the creative process and the real world application of such a process.
The UK circus student reading list
- The Circus
- An Introduction to Contemporary Circus
- UK circus time line
- Tactile by Luke Wilson
- Everything on Sideshow, particularly this
- Philip Astley
- P.T. Barnum
- Cirque du Soleil
- Art & Artifice
- Panorama contemporain des arts du cirque
- Every trick in the book
- Celebrations of Curious Characters
- Strange feats & clever turns
- Everything is a Remix
- Steal like an artist
- Show your work
- How music works
- Intuition Pumps
If I’d consumed all this stuff I would be in a better position to take a degree in circus.
After sharing this article a couple of people suggested some additions…
Charlie Holland, author of one of the books on my list suggested the following…
“I normally did a couple of film lectures (at The Circus Space) and recommended ‘The Golden Age of the Circus‘ by Howard Loxton, as an accessible introduction, and ‘The New American Circus’, by Ernest Albrecht.
The UK circus timeline you link to was iirc derived in part and with my permission from my fuller version (with a couple of small errors I’ve never quite been arsed to correct!) at http://palaceofvariety.co.uk/page24.htm
For those interested in the development of circus acrobatics, I cannot over-recommend Strehly’s ‘L’Acrobatie et les Acrobates’ http://gallica.bnf.fr/m/ark:/12148/bpt6k882577q/f17.image – a book that really should be translated into English by someone, one day.”