The Pan-Twilight Circus was first performed in Portland, Oregon, at the Echo Theatre, in the winter of 1990. The brainchild of Norman Johnson, a Rhode Island native, the circus used only puppet animals, including a rhino, whooping cranes, and a life-size puppet elephant. The show was about endangered animals, seen through the mythological tales of Icarus and Lilith.
Of that show's thirteen performers, seven were from Rhode Island. Thinking it a little silly to go all that way to be in a show, several of us staged another version of the show here in 1992, in a tent rented from the Circus Smirkus of Vermont. With the good grace of the Providence Parks Department, we set up our tent at India Point, for a show called Pandora's Boxes, and had a grand time for two weeks performing with 30 of our closest friends, a bear costume, another life-size puppet elephant, and a lot of boxes. The story of that show asked the question: what happened to Pandora after she opened her box?
In 1995, the third edition of the circus came to life under our own big top, assisted by ringmaster/gardener Bob Colonna and stiltdancer Sally Mayo, and several performers from (gasp!) other places. Five acrobats joined us from Montreal's Ecole Nationale de Cirque (two of whom are now touring with Cirque du Soleil), as well as a trapeze artist from New York and a juggler from Florida. The theme this year was insects, and the show was called Creatures of the Lawn. While there was no elephant, we featured a 16-foot grasshopper, a pair of mantises doing a tango on stilts, a thirsty fly, a bumblebee who couldn't fly, a trapeze spider, a caterpillar who turned into a trapeze butterfly, and many others. This show went on a statewide(!) tour, stopping in Hopkinton, Providence, and Newport.
In 1997, we are planning to advance our marriage of circus and theatre with a circus adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest. Adapted and directed by Bob Colonna, Choreographed by Sally Mayo, and with an original score by Steven Jobe, this promises to be our most exciting work yet, appealing to everyone--even those who like Shakespeare.
There's so much more to tell, about what we've done, and what we will do, but time is short, and doing the next thing always gets in the way of recounting the past things. Come join the fun and help make the next show a reality. We need lots of people to help us with set building, puppet making, publicity, marketing, tour planning, and more. The Pan-Twilight Circus is a fun show to watch, but most importantly (well, to us it is), it's a fun show to put on, too.