Pagan Circus
Monty Adkins - 1997

This work is based upon two sources: the poem Pagan Circus by Rose Dodd, and the circus paintings of Frantisek Tichy. Tichy (1896-1961) was obsessed with the circus both as a phenomenon and the figures in it. In Tichy's paintings, 'The performers of these capricci have deformed faces, mushroom faces, elongated, bruised, nightmare faces, faces that melt into wicked sneers...In the end... it becomes a satanic circus in which clowns flaunting bugbear mugs turn every act into a lugubrious rite, send us to the devil, to eternal fire, in ignem aeternum.' The idea of the circus being a satanic or 'dark' rite is also to be found in Rose Dodd's poem Pagan Circus. This poem was inspired by a performance given by La Fura del Baus in Frankfurt, 1990. This group combines 'circus' and physical-theatre to create a ·circus of cruelty'. By allowing the audience into the performing arena the notion of 'safety' is overturned leading to a heightened sense of physical experience. This work was awarded the Prix de Studio at the Bourges International ElectroacousticMusic Competition (1997).