In 1995, Stephanie Monseu decided she wasn't just going to run away with the circus, she was going to found her own. She and her partner Keith Nelson created not just your typical three-ring circus, but an inspired combination of vaudeville, burlesque, the wild west, and side show—the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus.
The variety the cirkus troupe offers is a reflection of the vastness of Monseu's own performance repertoire. Growing up, she was a gymnast, ballerina, artist, and singer in a rock band. Now, in addition to juggling, stilt walking, and aerial acts, Monseu also executes daring stunts like sword swallowing, fire eating, and bed-of-nails laying. The circus troupe—composed of anywhere between 2 and 16 performers depending on the show—have brought their entertainment to theaters, clubs, festivals, and even television across the country and around the world.
This month, on weekends from August 3 to 18, Bindlestiff brings their talents to Bard's Spiegeltent as the venue's summer resident family circus troupe. They'll perform a different show for each performance: on August 3 and 4, they presented "Kinder Spiegel," an act specifically designed for children. On August 10 and 11, Italian dancer Carlo Adinolfi showcases his talents with the help of his two puppets. The final weekend's show is appropriately called "My Last Cirkus" featuring Ringmistress Philomena and Cirque du Soleil performers. Check out our Kids & Family event listings for some more information about Bindlestiff's August performances.
Listen in as Monseu discusses the genesis of Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, some of her most daring stunts, and the upcoming performances at the Spiegeltent. For more information, visit Bindlestiff.org.
Click here to subscribe to the Chronogram Conversations Podcast on iTunes.