Wickham circus to celebrate English roots with fiery jugglers and clown double acts

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EXPECT high-flying acrobats, roller skaters and fiery foot jugglers at a celebration to mark 250 years since the birth of the modern circus.

Circus Wonderland from Wickham are coming to King George V Playing Fields in Cosham with their new show to showcase the history of the circus since its induction in 1768.

Some of the performers in Circus Wonderland

Some of the performers in Circus Wonderland

Paul Carpenter, co-director of Circus Wonderland and known to many as Popol the clown, said: ‘This year is a special year for circus as it is the 250th anniversary of the circus as we know it which was started in London by Philip Astley in 1768.

‘Obviously circus dates back a lot longer than that but Philip Astley was a horseman who did trick riding displays and he was the first person to realise if you made a ring the horses can go round in circles rather than up and down in straight lines.

‘And he was also the first person to introduce clowns, acrobats, strongmen, fire eaters into the show for variety so he was the first person that brought all those different elements together into one performance.’

Paul now works as half of popular clown double act, the Popolinos but was not born into a performer family.

He added: ‘I always loved the circus as a child but didn’t think I’d get the chance to do it.

‘I was also into performing arts and I did a degree in theatre studies and English literature and when I finished my studies I saw an advert in the newspaper for young people wanting to train as clowns.

‘I did it initially like a gap year and I thought I would run away with the circus and that’s how I first got into it.’

Co-director Grace Arnett is from Portsmouth and is set to make a special apperance in the ring with her hula hooping tricks and fiery foot juggling while Kriss Freear will join up with Paul for their double act; Mr Popol and Kakehole.

The performance has been dedicated to reminding audiences of its English roots.

Paul added: ‘There’s a lot of highly regarded circuses internationally, such as the Moscow State Circus, and people have a great respect for those circuses but they don’t always realise that it actually began here in England.

‘We’re trying to use the 250th anniversary as an opportunity to say to people that this is one of our greatest inventions. It started here and it went on to enthrall the whole world.’

Visitors can enjoy circus performances from Wednesday, June 13 until Sunday, June 17.