The very first performance of Circus Kirkus took place on January 29th 2020, in Boynton Beach, Florida. Kirk Marsh, juggler, comedian, manager, photographer, and proprietor has put together a team of circus artists, roustabouts, and producers to create a delightful family-friendly, one-ring, old fashioned tent show. In a real tent that must be assembled and broken down after each gig.
I was thrilled to attend their very first public performance. It was followed by a week of shows in the same location, before folding up the tent and hitting the road.
Circus Kirkus consists of six performers:
Kirk Marsh from Ottumwa, Iowa – comedy, ringmaster, juggler;
Keith Kaplan from Las Vegas – juggling, rola bola;
Alyssa Morar from Las Vegas – cube, trapeze;
Laura Gwendolyn Burch from Seattle, Washington – lycra/silks;
and Duo Straight-Up: Nicholas Lowery from Rolling Stone, Minnesota and
Rachel Randall from Seattle, Washington – Chinese pole and acrobalance (hand to hand).
IJA member Keith Kaplan does two acts, rola bola and toss juggling. On rola bola he takes two hoops and passes them around his legs and over his head. He balances on a basketball, then on a cylinder and a stack. He shows pluck by jumping rope and finishes juggling three clubs. After intermission he juggles three balls and three clubs in a variety of patterns. He does 360s, backcrosses, and overhead throws. He did both routines without drops or mishap, and he moved from prop to prop with vitality and pizzazz.
Kirk does quite a bit of comedy with the audience. In one bit he takes kids up on stage and gives each a bell. On cue he gets them to play a comical tune. They miss enough notes for it to be funny at first and applause-worthy when they get it right.
All the acts are skillful and the performers are obviously enjoying themselves which draws the audience in with joy. One can’t help but wonder how many hours and years of practice it takes to make a difficult trick look easy.
And how much time and effort goes into getting that trés belle tent up and down and moving it to each gig? Not to mention anchoring in the poles and repairing the damage done to the field or parking lot. Kirk told me a little about what’s involved and what he loves about the tent and the circus.
“The most difficult aspect of setting up the tent is also what make it gorgeous. The quarter poles for the tent take us the most amount of labor and fuss. I think we just don’t know the secret yet to getting them in there quickly and easily. This is our first season with the tent and learning its intricacies has definitely been a process. We have had some incredible help from tent master Alex Petrov for setup and that has allowed us to learn it much more quickly than we ever could have on our own.
“Is it worth it to have this tent? Absolutely. This show couldn’t happen without it. The tent allows us to have shows in places we may not be able to otherwise, and it serves as a symbol of the circus. We love it and every day that I see it set up it takes my breath away. A tent is definitely not for everyone and it is really tiring to set up and tear down, but it is getting faster each time we do it. As a friend of mine who has worked circus her whole life told me recently, ‘Circus is tough. That’s just the way it is.’
“What I love about circus is exactly that. There is truth in what you see. The acrobatics, the daring tricks, the hilarious moments are all right there in your face and it is all difficult to do. We have spent many years honing our craft so it looks easy, but it’s tough. Haha!”
Bravo to Kirk Marsh and his team for making a historic decision to start a terrific circus, Circus Kirkus – the newest show on Earth.