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An interrogation of the form and performance of circus: an exploration of the genre and those that live and work in it: questioning what it is, why we perform it and why we enjoy watching it.

A journey through the realities and absurdities of everyday circus life; a reveal of the truth behind the form: the rigging, burns and calluses, sacrifices, the years of commitment and the ‘what am I when I can’t do this anymore?’

Delving into desires of narcissism, fear and wonderment, What the Circus? is an investigation of circus and its potential. Using its heightened form to explore questions about ourselves and our relationships with each other and the world: how we observe and judge, what we expect and how our experiences mould us as performer, audience and human. It is an attempt to redefine how we watch, understand and appreciate the form and a celebration the people that work and in it.


Circus WTF is a Flight of the Escales production, funded by Arts Council England through Grants for the Arts. The development of the show was supported by The Roundhouse, Jacksons Lane London, Cambridge Junction, The Garage Norwich and The Cut Halesworth
Original creation produced by Flora Herberich

More information, tour pack and film length video available on request. 

Concept and Direction: Sarah Calver

Dramaturg and Assistant Director: Carolina Ortega

Set Design: Cate Blanchard 

Lighting Design: Sherry Coenen

Sound Design: Max Perryment 

Production Management: Sophie Tetlow

Performers: George Fuller, Antonio Harris, Maddie McGowen.

Other collababorators: Laura Moy, Anna Sandreuter, Bart Soroczynski, Sage Cushman, Shaena Brandel, Adam Welsh, Lara Davidson.

Photographs by Zak Marco: (info here)

Cesare de Giglio: (info here)

Andi Sapey: (Info here)


Series of short documentary films featuring female circus artists. Exploring motherhood, womanhood, bodies and aging.

Films directed by Sarah CALVER and filmed and edited by Robin THOMSON.

Featuring: Marieke HEENEMANN, Gabriela SCHWAB, Jana KORB and Petra LANGE.

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