facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11
Are you missing theatre as much as we are? Support us now with Theatre Tokens and see your favourite shows when they reopen. #IMissTheatre
Knee Deep (photo: Sean Young)

Knee Deep (photo: Sean Young)

Knee Deep in circus

First Published 28 May 2013, Last Updated 28 May 2013

Eggs, great for whipping up an interesting teatime treat, less great for successfully dropping from a considerable height. Also, as Casus’ acclaimed production Knee Deep proves, a fine, if unlikely, inspiration for a circus show.

As Knee Deep, already a hit at the Edinburgh Festival where the Guardian’s Lyn Gardner described it as “An awe inspiring show”, opens at London’s Riverside Studios, creator and performer Jesse Scott lets us into his life as a circus performer and ditching the brightly coloured stereotype for a more human circus experience:

We’re definitely not a traditional circus. There aren’t 50 people you see glimpses of; you see four people for an hour and you get to see something of us. We, as performers, are true to that and we give the audience who we are. We don’t hide behind make-up or costumes or extravagant sets. We allow the audience into our world because we completely believe that our world, as a circus world, is a really beautiful place to be and we want to show the rest of the world that. We give them that in that hour. That’s what makes it true and human.

In my head I’ve got this picture of my Dad standing on eggs with my Mum on his shoulders. When we were talking about creating a show, we started talking about eggs and what we could do. They are really fragile; if you drop them they break. But held in the right way, they are one of nature’s strongest things. It’s that balance between strength and fragility. Treat it right and it’s going to be strong. Treat it wrong and it’s going to be fragile and break. That’s the same as circus in a way. If someone climbs to the top of the pyramid and you do the wrong thing, they’re going to fall.

Casus is a year and a half old. We formed in October 2011 and Knee Deep is our first work. It was a culmination of circumstances, which is actually the meaning of Casus. We’d seen each other’s work, we know each other, we thought “Why don’t we make a company and do our own thing?” It was the right time.

The way that the four of us work is very organic. We start improvising, we start playing with each other, we come up with great ideas and then we just let them go. We constantly redevelop the work so it doesn’t get boring. As soon as it gets boring for us it gets boring for the audience.

Circus is such an accessible art form. People want their jaw on the floor and they want to be moved. Circus can offer that. If they want to a laugh, circus can offer that. If they want to be thrilled, circus can offer that.

We look after each other, so if one person gets sore we’ll treat each other. We’ll put an elbow in someone’s shoulder or someone’s butt, wherever it needs it. We also take precautions. We come in three hours before the show to stretch our muscles. But the nature of the work is that sometimes those things happen. We’ve all got niggles.

I’ve been around the circus since I was three months old. Circus is in my blood. It’s the only thing I’ve ever done and I still love it. There’s so many elements to circus. That’s the beauty of it. That’s why circus can translate to so many people, because there’s no rules, you can constantly push boundaries.

There’s a guy I was taught by and he was 86 and still swinging people around, but I know people that have injured their back at 25 and can no longer do circus any more.

Trust is probably the most essential thing in what we do. We’ve just started a 16 week tour, there are going to be little tiffs that we have because we’re going to be in each other’s face all the time. Even with those tiffs, as soon as you get on stage, as soon as you start warming up, as soon as you start doing tricks, that has to be thrown out the window. That can be resolved later but right now we have to be cohesive, we have to trust each other, otherwise we’re going to hurt each other and hurt ourselves. That’s not a good thing.


Sign up

Related articles

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.