The Family La Bonche - who are we?

Students enacting a performance piece
Students enacting a performance piece

Heritage Grants

Newcastle upon Tyne, North East
North East Circus Development Trust
"Family La Bonche has provided exemplary experiences for the young participants and produced portfolios […] which demonstrate complete immersion in the process of making and reflecting upon practice."
Tony Goode, Arts Award Moderator
Young people connected with their circus heritage through archive investigations and oral history interviews, and brought their discoveries to life in performance, an exhibition, website and project newspaper.

The Family La Bonche are the youth circus of the North East Circus Development Trust (Circus Central). They worked in partnership with Tyne and Wear Archives and Discovery Museum to find out about the circus heritage of the North East, focussing on the Fenwick Circus Collection. Young people came up with the idea having been introduced to the archive collection.

30 young people spent time exploring the collection, visited the National Fairground Archive, and interviewed circus performers and collected their stories. They selected material to digitise and developed an exhibition which was displayed as a backdrop for their performances. They created a newspaper to share stories and explain the project. Their research also became the basis for a high-production book titled Dinna Forget. Taking newspaper cuttings and posters as inspiration, they recreated historic acts, bringing characters such as ‘Koringa, the world’s only female fakir’ to life for contemporary audiences. They performed at the Great North Museum, Discovery Museum, Fitzwilliam Museum and at the British Juggling Convention. Some used the project to achieve Silver Arts Award.

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