An American Dramaturg in Armenia

Reflections on a 5-month sojourn as a Fulbright Scholar to the Yerevan Institute for Cinematography and Theatre

My Photo

artistic director of Active Cultures, the Vernacular Theatre of Maryland

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Yerevan State Circus

Photos: the outside of the circus building and one of the many hand painted posters used to advertise the show.

Yerevan, like many cities in the former Soviet Union, has a permanent, year-round circus housed in a building dedicated to circus performances. The state has operated the circus from its beginnings but recently, a decision was made to privatize the Yerevan State Circus. Competing bids were received from the circus staff and an outside investor. I don't know which bid won.
The circus has struggle financially for years and the building, constructed in 1961, is in desperate need of a major renovation. But, if the performance I recently attended was any indication, there is a ready and willing audience for the circus (and for any performance aimed at children).
However, like many state-run performing arts institutions, the circus has a bloated staff and an underutilized facility. Without a substantial government subsidy, it will have to rethink its institutional mission and expand its offerings in order to survive.
I hope the circus doesn't just survive but thrives because there is something wonderful about a town with its own circus. The circus doesn't come to town. It is part of the town.


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