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‘The Golden Age of Circus’ comes to Canberra

Valeriya Lloyd

Roll up, roll up!

Boasting thrilling and dangerous acts, masterful puppetry and exquisite costumes, the worldwide premiere of Circus 1903 – The Golden Age of Circus will make its exclusive debut at the Canberra Theatre Centre in December.

Tim Lawson and Simon Painter, the producers of the biggest selling magic show in the world, The Illusionists, have teamed up with the award-winning puppeteers of War Horse to create a thrilling circus spectacular.

Canberra audiences will be the first to get a glimpse of the show on its worldwide tour, which Tim says will take audiences back to the “golden age” of circus.


“The date of the show – 1903 – takes us back in history in the United States where circuses travelled from state to state and performed on a special ‘Circus Day’ once a year,” Tim says.

“Schools and offices were closed due to the event and the townsfolk, and particularly families with children, would attend one of the three shows presented on that day.  On those special circus days people were also given the unique opportunity to see some exotic animals before the show.”

Tim, the executive producer for the Majestic Theatre Company, has a long history of involvement in the performing arts. He has been trained in The Scottish Ballet School and is a graduate of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, and his works include The Phantom of the Opera, Spirit of the Dance and Oh! What a Night!

Tim explains Circus 1903 will see talented artists from all over the world perform.

“We enjoy working with people from all corners of the world,” he says.

“All rehearsals are a coming together of artists who have trained twelve hours a day, wherever they came from. We have truly the best artists in the world and have been working for a year to prepare this show. Some artists will be working together for the first time.”


The costumes for the show, designed by Angela Aaron, were inspired by authentic photographic collections, with Angela studying items in museum collections and working with various experts and historians along the way.

“The costumes are so exquisitely detailed and their colours are so vibrant,” says Tim.

“They represent the beginning of the twentieth century in a very realistic way.”

Tim says the extraordinary design of the circus tent by Todd Ivins and beautiful music composed by Evan Jolly will transport the audience to the magic world of circus.

“We really wanted to introduce some new acts that hadn’t been seen by Australian audiences and to give it a modern appeal as well,” he says.

The show also contains a few exciting surprises for the audience, including life-sized elephants created by the puppeteers.

“We wanted to put the animals back to the circus, but we never intended to use real ones,” says Tim.

“So we created puppet-elephants –a mother and a son. They look just breathtaking!”


Tim believes Circus 1903 will give birth to a new tradition for Canberra, to host “the greatest show on earth.”

“We made a decision to select Canberra to see this show first as there was evidently no other family entertainment before Christmas – now Canberra is the place where we want to start our other tours,”  says Tim.

After visiting Canberra, the show will take to the stage at the Sydney Opera House and then move to Melbourne before following up with shows at Madison Square Garden in New York.


the essentials

 What: Circus 1903 – The Golden Age of Circus
When: 1 – 10 December
Where: Canberra Theatre Centre
How much: Tickets from $49- $99
Web: canberratheatrecentre.com.au/ show/circus-1903/


Valeriya Lloyd

Val is studying Communications in Media and Public Affairs at University of Canberra and has a great passion for writing (in two languages as she originally came to Canberra from Russia). Val enjoys writing about life generally, and sometimes from a fictional perspective. She often generates new ideas in sudden moments and admits that she has at least two diaries, where she writes her notes and inspiration for future stories. She loves to meet new people and showcase their talents and originality. Val is very social person, who loves the local lifestyle and the inner beauty of Canberra. More about the Author

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