Oh what a circus, what a show, Africa has come to town. The sheer energy of CIRCUS ETHIOPIA will make audiences bend over backwards for tickets.

Words: Alastair Mabbott

IN 1990, A CANADIAN TEACHER NAMED Marc La Chance touched down in Addis Ababa to start work at the International Community School there. He had no idea that the simple act of showing some local street kids how to juggle stones would trigger a new age in the cultural life of lithiopia.

The liuropean idea of the circus was completely unknown in this part ofArlica. But when Ethiopians saw the amazing feats of La (‘hance‘s rapidly snowballing troupe of children. they embraced it with a passion. Today. there are four major companies under the banner of (‘ircus Iithiopia. and fourteen

I smaller projects. TheIZe was each developing its nothing Ilke own unique style in circus in isolation from ltiuro- Ethiopia,

pean circtises and inde )endentlv from


litbiopia is the place to go. There are probably slicker acrohats and gymnasts somewhere in the world. but they couldn‘t provide a more thrilling. colourful experience.

‘(‘ircus was really something very abstract for most of the kids.‘ explains (Eli/ow. an linglish speaker who has worked on the production side of (‘ircus Tigray for the past four years. 'There was nothing like circus in lithiopia. which was a good thing for the kids because they practically created their own circus. They probably saw a couple of things on video or TV. otherwise it is something they created from their own fantasies. That is what gives our circus its own identity.‘ Their weekly shows in Ethioia



families. they come from a variety of backgrounds. Some are from orph- anages. some were attending school. others would have been hanging around the streets or working to support their families. Their relatives. as it turns out. are involved too. making merchandise which is sold at the shows. All are dedicated and disciplined.

‘They are very. very proud that they reached this point where they could tour all over.’ continues (Hi/ow. ‘This feedback that they get from the public gives them so much energy. it‘s like evidence for them that. if you work hard. you can reach anything. So they have the motto that everything is possible if you work hard.”

The impact of the circus on lithiopia in the past few years has been so powerful that it is alreadv on its wa ' to becoming an