Photograph: Mark Lord Photography/PR.
The founder of Giffords Circus, Nell Gifford, died of cancer on 8th December, aged 46. A statement on the Giffords site says, “We know many tears will be falling as Nell touched so many hearts. Her vision for Giffords Circus was to bring happiness, imagination and enliven people’s souls. Giffords Circus shall continue to do just that. Whilst the world is a dimmer place today, Nell will continue to live through the Circus.”
Nell set up Giffords in 2000, “Our vision was a miniature village green circus, bursting at the seams, packed, rowdy, tiny, a little band of performers who live nomadically, performing daily, engrossed in the serious business of making magic.” Since then the circus has created a new show every year, entertaining more than a million people.
In 2011, Selvedge contributor Gemma Waggett was a Set and Prop Manager on Giffords production of War and Peace. Gemma talked about her experience in Issue 41: “The circus itself operates from a discreet HQ in Gloucestershire - there is no signage, the big top is certainly not up all year round and yet the magic lives on,” says Gemma. “An archive of costume is stored in a room nearby, next to a fabric and haberdashery supply cupboard that would rival Kleins. In wet and windy March when the actors, musicians and performers start to arrive every moment is considered a rehearsal. I quickly realised how lucky I was to be able to work creatively in this habitat. Somehow it doesn’t seem odd to have a colleague called ‘Tweedy the Clown’, or to look out of my office window and see a man riding two shire horses simultaneously by standing astride their backs.”
In 2020 Giffords will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Circus. The Giffords site says, “Nell wanted it to be the showstopper and it will be just that. Next year’s production, The Hooley will celebrate the first 20 years, the next 20 years and Nell’s incredible life. Nell built a circus to last. It is poised to grow and fulfil Nell’s plans for the future.”
For more information visit www.giffordscircus.com