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Elephant by Cloughjordan Circus Club

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Elephant by Cloughjordan Circus Club

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Cloughjordan Circus Club offers an alternative social and creative outlet to children and young people aged 8 – 25 years, promoting artistic and creative expression, physical wellbeing, and social connections through inclusive, participatory circus arts. We provide an exciting weekly programme of circus activities, create performances for parades, festivals and theatres, involve young people in trips and exchanges, and run peer education and leadership programmes. Our outreach programme extends beyond Cloughjordan to surrounding Midlands towns and villages. The elephant head is from a project undertaken by the Youth Circus group entitled Elephant. Artistic Director Joanna Williams worked with the group to devise a narrative inspired by local oral history, of the circus coming to town. The Circus Field (GAA pitch) is where they pitched. The elephant was taken up Main Street, as advertising, to the Ballyfinboy River to drink. In addition, the young people were inspired by a postcard from the Baker Collection addressed to the ‘Circus Field, Cloughjordan’ booking a pitch for the summer. Originally designed as a live performance, using large scale puppetry and a broad range of circus skills, the arrival of Covid meant adjusting our thinking and Elephant! became a film. With the support and understanding of our community, participants and artists we created a piece of work which will be an enduring legacy for a community in lockdown. The film involved 50 young people in it’s creation and performance. The narrative devised by the group represented the children and community of Cloughjordan, past and present. It imagined the spectacle of the circus coming to town, described in oral history, through the eyes of child. The following story of the child’s empathy with the Elephant, and their escape from the circus allowed us to explore how contemporary circus has changed in attitudes to animal treatment. As they jumped to modern day the narrative told of a community that embraces and celebrates their young people as they display their hidden circus talents!
This project was supported by Arts Council Young Ensemble Scheme and Tipperary Co Co Arts Office. Elephant! was awarded Best Student Production by Nenagh Film Festival.

Elephant Puppet Maker: Michael O’Donnell
Artistic Director: Joanna Williams
Additional Artists: Tommy Baker, Maria Corcoran, Paul Quate, Diane Quate

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