1991 – 1993
Chimaera Trapeze and Fire Theatre was a circus cooperative based in Middlesbrough from 1991 – 1993. It performed on a 30ft high trapeze rig and fire set which toured regionally, nationally and internationally. Chimaera produced quality punk-esque shows with a strong female cast (and 17 year old gymnastic lad, AJ Hudspith/James) they has a high level of circus skills, and aimed to create work which was powerful, creative and thought provoking. Their 1992 Production was called “Four Directions”.
Chimaera Trapeze and Fire Theatre was run by, Lynn Carroll, Cathie Sprague, Karen Bell, Clare Anderson and Al Bell. It also conducted trapeze and circus skills workshops with a commitment to working in the local area. Chimaera was the launch pad of several Circus Careers and helped to develop the Cleveland Community Circus.
Lynn Carroll (Legendary Lynn) was born in 1961 and was raised in Middlesborough. Lynn has been doing circus since 1984. She did a circus course with Reg Bolton in Manchester. Reg is the internationally renowned ‘Godfather of Community Circus’. Her first performance with No Fit State Circus was in 1986 when they travelled to the EJC, busking their way through Europe. She co-founded Manchester Community Circus, then attended Fooltime when it opened in 1987. She then travelled in Europe and Australia in the late 80‘s and worked for a year with Circus Hazzard in Spain before returning to found Teesside based aerial, fire and circus theatre company, Chimaera, which she ran for 4 years in the early 1990s. As the same time she started Cleveland Community Circus. She went on to work at Circus Space, London, and developed their youth circus. Lynn now runs the Education programme and teaches for No Fit State Circus, in Cardiff. She is the current Chair of the UK Youth Circus Network, which was formed in 2012 (Other youth circuses represented on the committee include: Five Ring Circus from Circus Central in Newcastle, Albert & Friends Instant Circus, Belfast Community Circus.)
Cathie Sprague, was born in Brampton Ontario, Moving to the UK aged 1. By 1984 she was a play worker and teacher of printmaking, puppetry and circus, in Bradford. In 1986 she enrolled on the RA RA ZOO’s circus skills course where she had her introduction to trapeze. She later went on to learn chinese juggling, fire manipulation, acrobatics, diabolo and clowning. She has performed far and wide with many companies, moving to the North East in 1991: 1988 – 1991 Skinning-the-Cat, 1991-1993 Chimaera – based in Teesside, 1995-1996 High Voltage, with their rig based off a truck, 1996 – 2011 ‘Pageant of Light’ in Saltburn as fire based performances, 1996- 2007 she taught at Redcar Adult Education including Circus Skills classes as a freelancer. Her networks throughout the circus community are great enabling her to work with professional artists like Marin Magnay, Claire Russell, John Lee, Pauline Palacy and Let’s Circus. As well as the stage, Cathie has sprung onto the screen being filmed with her trapeze act and interviews and extracts from the Skinning The Cat show. Cathy is still buzzing around the north east delivering circus skills workshops.
See Bell & Bullock entry for more information on Karen Bell.