• Dark Circus was collaboratively created by an ensemble of 11 performers over a 10 month period, 1989-90. The audience wound their way through a seedy and horrifying sideshow featuring a hunger artist, a human blockhead, and deviant abuse acts among others, to the ‘circus grounds’ in the alley behind the Eureka Theatre.
  • Dark Circus was a play staged within a circus which featured acrobatic acts, an aerialist, song-and-dance numbers, a horse act, stilt performers, a ‘pinhead’, a drunken magician, a daredevil, a Vaudeville number, a Grande Guignol skit complete with blood and popping eyeballs, a sharp shooter act, clown turns, and a giant puppet. The overarching theme examined slavery vs. freedom, with several sub-themes introduced by the ensemble, presenting inquiry into various topics including racism, ableism, abuse, privilege, and personal choice.
  • Sold out for its original 3 week run, Dark Circus was ultimately extended for 6 weeks.
  • Unfortunately the only images available are from very old low res video.

Venue and Dates

  •  Eureka Theatre, San Francisco, 1990


  • ‘Dark Circus’ by Bindlestiff Productions (collaboratively created)
  • Directed by Chris Brophy and Chrystene Ells
  • Primary Ensemble: Michael Bellino, Chris Brophy, Chrystene Ells, Sarah Ells, Maija Gailitis, Mark Hidzick, Kelly Kidneigh, Gardiner O’Kain, Stephen Pocock, Reed Kirk Rahlmann, Blancett Reynolds,  Todd Rollé
  • Stills from video shot by Roy Eisenstein