FYI Vol, V, No. 6


Study to Determine Effectiveness of Social Circus Programs

The American Youth Circus Organization (AYCO) has commissioned a study of the social and emotional impact of youth circus programs. It will be conducting this study with a group of Social Circus programs over the course of the year from September 2016 and have contracted with the David P Weikart Center for Youth Program Effectiveness to conduct the work.  The study will provide  the first objective, publishable data on the social and emotional impact of circus programming from the USA.  Evidence of impact will help organizations raise funds for their programs, and help for-profit enterprises to market their services to families.  The results will also draw general interest to the circus sector. Our research partner has been in the news recently for their work on measuring social and emotional impact, and for highlighting best practices for programming seeking to impact teens in this way.

The study is led by AYCO, and the lead funder is Cirque du Soleil. Other funders include  Trenton Circus Squad, Circus Smirkus and SANCA, and all participants are contributing in some way.

Leitzel Biography Set to Be Filmed

For her next trick, film star Margot Robbie is heading to the circus to perform death-defying acts in the role of famous real-life trapeze artist Lillian Leitzel. The new film biop will be produced by Andrew Lazar. It is based on Dean N. Jensen’s 2013 book about the life of Lillian Leitzel. Cat Vasko has written the screenplay.  Leitzel became a world-renowned trapeze artist starring with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in the early 20th century. The petite acrobat was well-known for her signature trick, which involved repeatedly dislocating one of her shoulders, and was so committed to the craft that her wrists had been permanently marked by the trapeze ropes. The story also tells of Leitzel’s relationship with fellow trapeze artist Alfredo Codona, an equally renown flyer, their marriage and tragic deaths.

Cirque Continues to Battle Broadway Its Own Way

After opening to mixed reviews Cirque du Soleil’s Broadway production Paramour will go dark this summer so the creative team can rework the show’s story and acrobatics.  It is a move almost unheard-of on Broadway, although it is not entirely unheard of with Cirque productions, which are continually being revamped.  Four performances have been cancelled, during which time  the cast and crew will prepare new routines and scenes that have been created in response to focus groups and audience surveys.  Since this is a relatively common practice with Cirque, Scott Zeiger, president and managing director of Cirque du Soleil Theatrical, has said that the show’s budget allows such a break. .

“I would imagine that there are many producers who, if they have the chance to refine the show a few months after opening, they would,” he said. “So we did.”

The changes will be aimed at pleasing both Cirque devotees and local theatergoers. For example, Mr. Zeiger said, many fans wanted more acrobatics earlier in the show during the exposition, while others wanted the plot and characters to be fleshed out with more depth. So the creators have worked on the tricky balancing act of crafting a stronger narrative while leaving room for spectacle.

Paramour has faced an uphill climb to profitability since its opening on May 25. The show’s best week at the box office was its first — when it grossed about $1.1 million, about 62 percent of its potential. Recently it was bringing in about $910,000 a week.

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