Monday, 30 April 2007

Chasing the Industrious Fleas

Whilst researching the history of the Flea Circus, I perioducally do a search for "Flea Circus", "L Bertolotto" or "Industrious Fleas" in both the google search and the google books search. The book search returns an increasing number each time I run it. Many of these are simply references to politics or cheap jokes about badly run guest houses.

However, today I found a couple of new links including

The diary of Lord William Russell and his wife, 1815-1846
The life and adventures of George Augustus Sala

Which are present in local libraries to me. So there could be some intersting progressions soon....

Thursday, 26 April 2007

New and Old Circuses

This has been a good week for Flea Circus research, as well as the 1751 report from the surgeon John Knyveton there has been a range of other updates to the Flea Circus History page.

There are also some new flea circus performers including Faust the Magician who reports to represent the classier side of the flea circus world. When not performing his classical illusions, writing books and collecting magic memorabilia, Faust puts on his white tie, red tail coat and Habig top hat to become a true circus showman. His Louis Vuitton suitcase hides some traditional flea circus acts and some specialities of his own.

Faust's Fantastic Flea Circus
is available for Magic Clubs, Magic Conventions, or any organisation that wants to book it.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

April 27th, Flea Circus in New York

As part of the Ensemble Studio Theater / Sloan Center’s First Light Festival’s closing night celebration, Adam Gertsacov is performing an excerpt of the flea circus at the Cabaret Scientifique. This is a power-packed evening of song, dance and comedy--"specially comissioned by the EST-Sloan Project to celebrate the mergin of art, science and technology. Quirky, hilarious and endearing, these top acts are sure to close the First Light Festival with a night to remember"

The Flea Circus will be about 7-10 minutes from a 40 minute show.

Admission is free, but the theatre is small.

YOU MUST RESERVE YOUR FREE SEATS BY CALLING. Call 212 247 4982 to make a reservation and don't forget to mention you are there to see the flea circus.

Ensemble Studio Theater, 549 West 52nd St. NYC (Between 10nth & 11nth)

Saturday 13th Feb 1751

Front Cover of Diary"... turning did find that my other friends were already gone ahead, being Attracted by the gathering of a crowd; and to join them, to find a Watchmaker who had setup a Booth near Durham Yard in the Strand. There on trestles he had set out a tiny Chaise with four wheels, this being mighty small; and then he coaxes a Flea out of a box and sets him to draw it; other fleas being taken out which did turn water mills and march in troupes like soldiers; at which I was amazed, having never attributed aught of Intelligence to Fleas but a Malignant Instinct. This London be a marvellous place, where one may see more Wonders in ten yards than one would see in ten Miles at home; the which is no doubt wht the inhabitants are more hare-brained, constant Surprises shaking the Wits and enervating the Reason."

This extract comes from the "The diary of a surgeon in the year 1751-1752" by John Knyveton, a who was surgeon in London and later on HMS Lancaster, kindly provided by the Wellcome Trust Library. This is quite a significant find as it's 10 years before the previous earliest record of a flea circus and provides significantly more detail of the acts performed. If the proceedings of the old bailey are anything to go by there were several watch makers in the area of Durham Yard and it was a favourite for theives who were running away from crimes.

Stop Press

There is evidence to indicate that these diaries perhaps works of fiction rather than fact, for example errors in dates of key events. However there are other references to this event in the London, Daily Advertiser and other newspapers that report this booth was in existence between 1742 and 1763.

Monday, 23 April 2007

Flea Films

As well as my own flea film and the numerous movies and adverts mentioned on the Flea Circus Research Library there's a few other interesting examples I've recently found.

British Pathe have a collection of films on their site that look at old Flea Circuses in the UK and France.

Animal Makers Inc built and operated a puppet flea for a Flea Circus trailer for PBS's Evolution series.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Flea Circus In Ireland

Cahoots from the Children's Theatre Company in Northern Ireland will be performing their musical flea circus at the Sticky Fingers Festival. In a child-sized theatre the team will be performing their flea act with live music to children aged 5 to 9.

Sticky Fingers Festival
A celebration of arts for early years
Narrow Water Castle and the Sean Hollywood Arts Centre, Newry
MAY 17 – 24 2007

Dawkins Flea Circus

Perhaps to counter all of the Christian claims over the symbology of the flea circus has posted their own flea circus. And it's quite a fine circus too.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Flea Plushies

If you want a flea to cuddle or to throw across the room then you can purchase a flea online from one of these suppliers. Alternatively you might fancy Streptococcus Pneumoniae or Treponema Pallidum!?



Friday, 13 April 2007

Sony, the Church and Flea Circuses

As part of their advertising for the Playstation 2, Sony produced an advert about training fleas called Escape the Circus. It explained the idea of training fleas by putting them in a container with a lid until they learn not to jump. Since then a whole range of Christian blogs have commented that they believe the church is the same as a jam jar and hence they are the same as fleas. At first I thought this was novel and creative but then it appeared again and again on different sites. And interestingly enough there is never a credit back to the first person who came up with the idea which pretty much makes them all plagiarists.
Are Christians being cunningly manipulated to perform for entertainment by an outside force? Are they all wildly jumping around looking for blood and it's only the church that is stopping them escaping and spreading diseases? Or are they simply too focused on conforming each other and scared of coming up with new ideas just in case they upset someone?
And finally on a separate topic, I discovered today the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to insects. SPCI is calling for the flea circus to be banned. I have contacted them to address their fears.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Texas - Flea Circus

On Saturday 14th April, George Esparza will be performing with Phydeauxs Flying Flea Circus at the 21st Folkfest, and Kindermasken in downtown New Braunfels, Texas, USA.