Flynn Creek Circus September 2019

Performers in the Flynn Creek Circus work on some of the aerial acts that are part of the group's new show. The circus is setting up its big top in Corvallis' Avery Park for three days beginning Thursday. 

If you saw the Flynn Creek Circus last year when it set up its big top in Corvallis for the first time, you might have a general idea of what to expect from this year's performance: jugglers, aerialists, acrobats and other classic circus acts in an all-human show.

But you haven't seen this year's show, complete with an all-new story, "Out of Hat," in which a rabbit (played by Amelia Van Brunt) escapes from the magician's hat. Various twists and turns ensue as characters attempt to get the rabbit back in the hat.

But the plotline, of course, is just a framework to showcase the various performers who have signed on for this year's tour with the Flynn Creek Circus. Among the performers featured in "Out of Hat" are Kris and Harrison Kremo, jugglers from Switzerland.

The show also features plenty of aerial action, including performances by The Daring Jones Duo — David Jones and Blaze Birge, who have owned the Flynn Creek Circus since it was founded in 2002. (The name comes from the circus' home base in rural Mendocino County, California.)

Birge studied philosophy and performance art in college, and originally was attracted to circuses as a model for creating portable art galleries housed in tents.

While she interned in England she became intrigued with the trapeze and began training under the tutelage of one of the world’s top circus experts, Martin Burton, founder and director of Zippos Circus. She eventually started teaching trapeze skills, and one of her first students was Jones, now her partner. She and Jones founded the Flynn Creek Circus in 2002.

The circus' reputation is such, Birge said, that it's able to sign contracts with well-known circus performers such as the Kremo brothers. 

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But it also has an eye on the future, with an apprenticeship program that aims to train the next generation of performers.

"We try to reinspire the old dogs," she said, "and get the new dogs some experience."

Even with nearly two decades of experience running the Flynn Creek Circus, Birge said it's still a challenge every year writing each year's new show and taking it on the road: "It's never easy. It's a lot of work."

But, she said, she expected that: "I never expected it to be just fun."

All in all, though, "it's a wonderful life."

"Out of Hat" is family-friendly, Birge noted ("It's comic. It's very cute"), with one exception: A Saturday show at 8 p.m. offers the "adults-only" version of the show and is meant for over-21 audiences. 

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