Circus on the Edge is a collaboration project in which circus trainers from Europe and Asia are joining the journey of circus/theatre training to strengthen 3 ethnic communities in northern Thailand through applied circus practices. These communities constantly face issues of socio-cultural stigmatisation, freedom of movements, sustainability, and external development pressures. The unique learning opportunities of this project will offer new perspectives, knowledge, and a tool-kit for participants to fight against the deprivation they are facing; especially as two of the participant groups are from stateless, displaced backgrounds.
The idea of this project was developed in 2014, when Die Rot(z)nasen circus director, Andrea Hille, spent her time volunteering in Makhampom’s social circus program at Makhampom Art Space in Chiang Dao, Chiang Mai, Thailand, with our circus trainer volunteer, Golf – Thanupon Yindee. Speaking as a best friend who has known Makhampom for over 20 years, Andrea’s suggestion of a social circus collaboration project sounded amazingly powerful.
About the Project
Circus Groups as an old European tradition occurs in Thailand as a new approach. The emerging popularity of circus arts, particularly amongst young rural people, indicates an attraction to the physicality, aesthetics, and excitement of the form and a natural affiliation with local dance, ritual, and martial arts traditions. We discussed and fused our 6 years of experience of social circus, which has paved its way to be one of our main programs, and found that it is a truly powerful art form for the ethnic communities we work with. The leaders from 3 communities, which are Pang Daeng Nok, Pa Teung Ngam, and Phu Chi Fa, have kindly and whole-heartedly embraced the circus form.
Each community joins us, not to be circus/theatre stars, but to strengthen themselves for bigger goals – to protect local environments and traditions, to raise their status and profile with outsiders, and to address youth gangs, suicide, drugs, and cultural identity issues. This will then extend through their districts and collectively create the potential for social circus theatre movements amongst ethnic minority groups in northern Thailand, with powerful impacts on young people and social discriminations.
And this year in 2015, we’re ready to challenge ourselves to take a step further with a project called “Circus on the Edge”.