Circus City – Bristol’s biennial circus festival – is back for three jam-packed weeks from 30 September to 16 October. Prepare to fire your imaginations and thrill your senses as the festival puts Bristol firmly on the map as an international capital of contemporary circus. 

Here are five highlights from this year’s programme, as chosen by the Circus City team.

Blame Game by Kundle Cru at 1532 Performing Arts Centre (2 & 3 October)

In Blame Game this company of innovators explores the dirty politics of scapegoating.

The international cast of Kundle Cru fuse breakdancing, juggling, Chinese pole and contemporary dance to create a genre-defying movement language. In combination with music, they tell stories in their own physically brilliant style.

Sometimes our emotions build up and we let off steam to release the pressure. But what happens when that release involves blaming someone else unfairly? Is groundless prejudice found in all societies?

Fresh from their creation period in the UK and France, Blame Game is a brand-new show premiering at 1532 Theatre on 2 and 3 October. Tickets from £13.

Performer in the Blame Game, Circus City show

Image - Blame Game, credit Alice Underwood

(le) Pain by DREAM & Jean Daniel Broussé at Tobacco Factory Theatre (15 & 16 October)

Jean Daniel Broussé is the only son of a 3rd generation baker. He’s destined to follow in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and great grandfather and inherit the family bakery in rural France. But JD – queer, a circus artist and intolerant to patriarchy – is not a baker.

(le) Pain is the unexpected chapter in the bakery story. A journey through bread making, acrobatics and growing up in strait-laced provincial France, that reverberates with the tragedy, comedy and joy of making a break for it.

Catch this debut solo show from Total Theatre award-winning artist JD Broussé at Tobacco Factory Theatre on 15 and 16 October. Tickets from £12.

Jean Daniel Brousse in (le) Pain for Circus City 2021

Image - (le) Pain

Kerfuffle at The Mount Without (15 & 16 October)

A jukebox circus cabaret of camp classics for queers and their friends.

When your family is chosen and you each own a similar shaped experience, sometimes you’ve just got to come together and share a deep breath out.

Kerfuffle is a new variety confessional that invites you to sit more comfortably, take up space and let your hair down surrounded by pals.

Kerfuffle is the first development of a new circus show ‘Risk’ from Scottee & Friends Ltd that looks at the relationship between risk in circus and the queer experience. This is your first chance to have a nose at something we think will be very special.

We can’t promise we won’t make you do the YMCA but it will be a laugh, and there might be some tears too – bring tissues. Kerfuffle will be one of the first shows at The Mount Without – IMPERMANENCE’s brand-new venue, and a home for dance in the city. Tickets from £13.

Kerfuffle, Circus City 2021

LP (Long Play) by OLGA_cirqAnalogique at Unit 15 (14 & 15 October)

Long Play is a cry of resistance that pays tribute to the generation of the new millennium – an escape hatch through which our dreams and fears can pass.

Echoing with political speeches, cellphones, pop icons, wires, software and a bearded figure in high-heeled shoes, this show conjures a space for the celebration of error and human fragility.

Featuring feats of aerial acrobatics and object manipulation, tricks of light and sound create a visual and acoustic underworld. Showcasing at UNIT 15 on 14 and 15 October. Tickets from £8.

LP (Long Play) by OLGA_cirqAnalogique, Circus City 2021

Image - LP (Long Play), credit Clara Pedrol

Period Drama by Olga Kaleta at The Station (2 & 3 October)

How am I supposed to know how I am doing when the world I live in has lost its mind?!

Period Drama is an experimental outdoor solo show about anxiety disorder, periods, slasher flicks and the perils of everyday life. Combining aerial rope and physical comedy with autobiographical storytelling, this absurd, beautiful and honest show challenges ideas of who we are and what we are meant to become.

Olga will be sharing this exciting fusion of circus, theatre and physical comedy for the first time at The Station in an outdoor seated show from 2 to 3 October. Tickets from £8.

Period Drama by Olga Kaleta, Circus City 2021

Image - Period Drama, credit Daniel Barnet

View the full Circus City 2021 programme here.  

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Circus City Blame Game by Kundle Cru CREDIT Alice Underwood

Circus City - the UK’s biggest festival of contemporary circus – will bounce back into Bristol this Autumn with a programme combining circus skills with music, film, theatre and dance and happening city-wide in indoor and outdoor venues, as well as online.