What Lies Beyond the Blue Doors

16 March 2012

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St Paul's church, Bristol. Photography by Ian Sumner.St Paul's church, Bristol. Photography by Ian Sumner.

A circus surprise in the heart of Bristol! Since 2005 Circomedia- Bristol’s centre for circus-theatre training- has been proud to call St Paul’s Church their second home.  The distinctive wedding cake tower of this stunning 18th Century building lights a kaleidoscope of colours across the city of Bristol at night, a hint that what happens behind the ogee arched doors is far cry from what the exterior may suggest.

And what a mix of things happens behind those doors! Circomedia make full use of the lofty heights the church ceiling offers and have a permanently rigged flying trapeze nestled below the intricate Georgian plasterwork. Aerial artistes are perfectly framed by the arches of the stained glass windows as they dangle beautifully yet precariously from above.

Trapeze artists performing in St Paul’s church, Bristol. Photography by Ian Sumner.

There are plenty of opportunities to see the splendid St Paul’s Church in action or get involved. Circomedia is at heart a circus-theatre training school and run a BTEC diploma from this striking building for those aged sixteen and up.  There are also evening classes in all things aerial – trapeze, silks and corde lisse to name a few- and the Church is an active hub in the local community with the youth City Circus, family workshop days and all sorts of one-off events throughout the year.

It is during performances that the versatility of St Paul’s Church comes to the fore. Whether it is a home grown student circus piece or professional company, the soaring pillars add a je ne sai quoi to shows performed here. A myriad of artistes have presented their work in the space, from Kneehigh to Marcello Magni & Kathryn Hunter to Champloo, and Circomedia has even hosted a secret Amy Winehouse concert (complete with trapeze artist entertainment naturally) and welcomed in Channel 4’s Skins film crew.

Kneehigh at St Paul’s church, Bristol. Photography by Ian Sumner.

It’s incredible to think how much St Paul’s Church has changed in the last decade. What may have first seemed an unlikely partnership between the Churches Conservation Trust and Britain’s original circus school has proved remarkably successful at breathing life into a derelict building and bringing a bit of circus magic to an under loved area.


If you would like any further information regarding Circomedia and what they offer, please visit www.circomedia.com or email info@circomedia.com

Post by Ali Campbell, Marketing Officer, Circomedia.


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