But how do you make animals a central part of a modern circus when the audience is in collective agreement that to have traditionally wild animals performing tricks is unethical? For Circus 1903, the solution to this dilemma came from the acclaimed theatre production War Horse. Taking inspiration from the play’s incredible equine puppets, Circus 1903 set out to bring circus elephants back to the ring; a journey you can see in this trio of videos.
In this second video Circus 1903’s Creative Producer, Simon Painter explains why they chose to use puppetry rather than animatronics to bring the elephants to life. And Mervyn Millar of Significant Object – the company tasked with creating the puppets – explains how their creations help bring to life the contrasting characters of the mother and baby elephant.
Creating puppets that are both easy to use, but also believable as animals is no easy task, and in this final video, Millar explains how it falls on the puppeteers to marry these two aspects together. The puppeteers themselves also describe how they work together as a team to breathe life into the elephants and channel their respective personalities into the performance.