LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS... welcome to the big top blog of Douglas McPherson, author of CIRCUS MANIA, the book described by Gerry Cottle as "A passionate and up-to-date look at the circus and its people."

Sunday, 29 April 2012



Australian circus girl
Chelsea McGuffin
in an earlier production by
Circa that you can read
about in
Circus Mania

(Photo by Raphael Helle,
courtesy Norfolk and Norwich

One of the most visually unusual circus shows this summer is likely to be How Like An Angel, a mixture of acrobatics and 16th and 17th century choral music that has been specially created to tour four of England’s most striking cathedrals: Norwich, Ely, Gloucester and Ripon.

The show is the brainchild of Yaron Lifschitz, artistic director of Australian company Circa, who has teamed up with Robert Hollingworth, musical director of I Fagiolini to create a show that will see aerial artists flying through the high empty spaces of the four magnificent medieval buildings.

The tour kicks off in Norwich Cathedral June 26 - 28, before moving to Ely (July 2-3), Gloucester (July 16- 17) and Ripon (July 19 - 20). Tickets for Norwich cost £20 by phone on 01603 766400 or in person from the box office of the Norwich Theatre Royal.

In the meantime, you can catch up with the story of Yaron Lifschitz and Circa in Circus Mania by Douglas McPherson.

Circus Mania includes a chapter on Circa’s previous visit to Norwich when the company performed in the atmospheric setting of a traditional European Spiegeltent, or ‘mirror tent.’ A dramatic description of the show’s Chelsea McGuffin being suspended by her front teeth is followed by a next-morning interview with Lifschitz in which the director explains with a chuckle that in circus “Some things just hurt.”

Circus Mania, which also includes some eye-popping pictures of Circa in action, retails at £14.99 but you can save £5 by buying it direct from Peter Owen Publishers at the special offer price of just £10 postage-free in the UK (£2.75 postage rest of world). Send cheques to:

Peter Owen Publishers
81 Ridge Road
London N8 9NP

Also read my interview with Chelsea McGuffin.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

World Circus Day, April 19 2014

The fifth World Circus Day will be celebrated on Saturday April 19, 2014.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls... Saturday April 19, 2014, is World Circus Day!

Organised by the International Circus Federation under the patronage of Princess Stephanie of Monaco, World Circus Day is a global celebration of the glamour, excitement, tradition and spectacle of the sawdust circle - and it’s something EVERYONE can get involved in.

Here is the recipe for a perfect World Circus Day:

1/ Google ‘Circus’ and the name of your town or county. Find the circus appearing nearest to you and go along! If you haven’t been for years, you’re guaranteed to enjoy it!

2/ Buy some paper plates and a can of shaving foam. Spray the shaving foam on the plates to make some nice big custard pies, then go into the garden and have a good old custard pie fight! (Rinsing off with water pistols is optional!)

3/ Get out your face paints and paint clown faces on your kids... and yourself!

4/ If you’ve got any circus skills take your stilts, unicycle or juggling balls out onto the streets and share your passion. If anyone asks you what you’re doing, tell them it’s World Circus Day!

5/ Buy a copy of Circus Mania - The Ultimate Book For Anyone Who Dreamed Of Running Away With The Circus by Douglas McPherson and read all about the unique lifestyle, traditions, culture, history, superstitions and secrets of the world’s greatest circus entertainers as told in their own words. 

Click here to buy Circus Mania from Amazon.

Certificate from Princess Stephanie of Monaco
marking Douglas McPherson's
participation in the 1st World Circus Day
with the launch of Circus Mania

The Mail on Sunday called Circus Mania “A brilliant account of a vanishing art form.” The Eastern Daily Press called it “Remarkable... captivating... beguiling... a real page turner.” The fairground newspaper World’s Fair called it “The greatest show on earth in a book!”

Circus Mania retails at £14.99, but to celebrate World Circus Day you can SAVE £5 by buying it direct from Peter Owen Publishers at the special offer price of just £10 postage-free in the UK (£2.75 postage worldwide).
Send cheques to:

Peter Owen Publishers
81 Ridge Road
London N8 9NP

Or click here to buy the paperback or ebook from Amazon.

May all your days be World Circus Days!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Cirque du Ciel Review

The Chinese circus tradition is more than 2000 years old, but all the old routines like hand balancing and contortionism, double Chinese poles and hat juggling come up like new again in ShangHi, the exciting new theatre show from Cirque du Ciel.
Directed by Zhang Wan who worked with Cirque du Soleil’s Guy Caron on an earlier version of the show called Magical Musical Box, ShangHi has a slender storyline: a sleeping girl dreams of watching and joining in with acrobats. But the stunts come thick and fast against a projected backdrop of swirling colours and a loud, westernised soundtrack given extra energy by a tireless onstage drummer.
Two highlights both feature foot juggling. The men juggle with each other in hip-hop clothes in the first scene that really gets the crowd excited. The women juggle with drums which they also play.
The skill level is high, the large cast routines are slickly choreographed and the glittering costumes are attractive in this high energy show which is touring the UK until August 25.
But what is the history of the Chinese circus and its influence on western circus? The answers can be found in Circus Mania, by Douglas McPherson, which goes behind the scenes of the Chinese State Circus as well as cutting edge cirque shows such as Cirque du Soleil and Cirque de Glace, traditional big top circuses and hybrids like the Circus of Horrors to discover the traditions, superstitions and secrets of the circus breed.

Described by the Mail on Sunday as “A brilliant account of a vanishing art form,“ Circus Mania retails at £14.99, To save £5 off the recommended retail price and buy Circus Mania at the special offer price of just £10 postage-free, send cheques to:Peter Owen Publishers
81 Ridge Road
London N8 9NP
Or telephone 020 8350 1775 to buy what World’s Fair called “The Greatest Show On Earth In A Book!”

Monday, 2 April 2012

Peter Owen New Address

Circus Mania book launch
as reported in The Stage
(L-R: Gerry Cottle,
author Douglas McPherson,
Dr Haze)
If you’d like to buy Circus Mania by Douglas McPherson at the special offer price of just £10 postage free, please note the new address and telephone number for Peter Owen Publishers:

Peter Owen Publishers
81 Ridge Road
London N8 9NP

T. 020 8350 1775

“Circus Mania is a brilliant account of a vanishing art form... an excellent book.”
- 4-star review, Mail on Sunday

Peter Owen OBE
Publisher of Circus Mania
2014 Update: Circus Mania publisher Peter Owen received an OBE for services to literature in the New Year's honours list. Click here for details.

Click here to read about the behind-the-scenes juggling that went into the Circus Mania launch party at Circus Space.