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Behind the scenes look at elephant puppets being created for Norwich's Circus250 celebrations

PUBLISHED: 14:31 03 June 2018

A sneak peek at the elephant puppets being created for the Circus250'parade.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2018

A sneak peek at the elephant puppets being created for the Circus250'parade. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018

Archant 2017

A herd of life-sized elephant puppets is set to parade through Norwich next month as part of the city's Circus250 and Lord Mayor's Celebration festivities - and a team of artists and performers are currently working hard to create the jumbo spectacle.

A sneak peek at the elephant puppets being created for the Circus250'parade.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2018A sneak peek at the elephant puppets being created for the Circus250'parade. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018

Ali MacKenzie of Norwich-based community arts association Tin House is leading the development of the puppets with support from artist Matt Reeve, and on Saturday they offered a sneak peak behind the scenes at the elephant workshop.

Here the team was doing everything from carving a mould of an elephant head out of polystyrene to learning to move like the magnificent animals in preparation for the procession of four adult elephants and one baby elephant on Friday, July 6 from 7pm.

The puppets will be accompanied by troupes of actors and jugglers and more as they recreate the parades of circuses from days gone by such as P.T. Barnum and Bailey’s 1898 parade through Norwich.

Work on the puppets - which are based on Asian elephants - began in February and is a complex process.

Elephants from Barnum's Circus parading up Gaol Hill, in Norwich, in 1898.
Photo: Norwich Record OfficeElephants from Barnum's Circus parading up Gaol Hill, in Norwich, in 1898. Photo: Norwich Record Office

“We have done lots of research, looking at the way they walk, where their joints are and understanding their skeletons,” said Ali, who added that the adult elephant puppets would be about 9ft high and about 13.5ft long.

“Each adult puppet will have four puppeteers - two on the inside, one on the head and one on the trunk,” she said.

“There will be two puppeteers for the baby elephant.

“People can expect an elphantine spectacle!”

A sneak peek at the elephant puppets being created for the Circus250'parade.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2018A sneak peek at the elephant puppets being created for the Circus250'parade. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018

The parade of elephants - which will travel from Gaol Hill to Chapelfield Gardens - will kick off this year’s circus-themed Lord Mayor’s Celebration weekend which will also see the magic of the big top take centre stage during the annual Lord Mayor’s Street Procession on Saturday, July 7.

The Lord Mayor’s Celebration weekend will then also be extended with Chapelfield Gardens hosting circus shows programmed by Norwich-based Lost in Translation circus company from July 11 to 15.

Norwich, along with Great Yarmouth, is one of the country’s six Cities of Circus that are the focus of the Circus250 festivities to mark the 250th anniversary of the art form. For more on Norwich’s Circus250 activities, visit www.circusnorwich.co.uk

A sneak peek at the elephant puppets being created for the Circus250'parade.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2018A sneak peek at the elephant puppets being created for the Circus250'parade. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018

A sneak peek at the elephant puppets being created for the Circus250'parade.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2018A sneak peek at the elephant puppets being created for the Circus250'parade. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018

A sneak peek at the elephant puppets being created for the Circus250'parade.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2018A sneak peek at the elephant puppets being created for the Circus250'parade. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018

A sneak peek at the elephant puppets being created for the Circus250'parade.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2018A sneak peek at the elephant puppets being created for the Circus250'parade. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018

Elephants from Barnum's Circus parading up Gaol Hill, in Norwich, in 1898.
Photo: Norwich Record OfficeElephants from Barnum's Circus parading up Gaol Hill, in Norwich, in 1898. Photo: Norwich Record Office

A sneak peek at the elephant puppets being created for the Circus250'parade.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2018A sneak peek at the elephant puppets being created for the Circus250'parade. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018

A sneak peek at the elephant puppets being created for the Circus250'parade.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2018A sneak peek at the elephant puppets being created for the Circus250'parade. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018



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