Friday 18 October 2019

Circus Factory Cork – Now you really can run away and join the circus!

Rachael Taylor Fawsitt

Running for over a decade, Circus Factory Cork has been juggling, balancing and tightrope walking (to name a few) it’s way around Cork city since the noughties. As well as being a space for professionals to train, it also warmly welcomes new members.

To celebrate the launch of new Club Chunky, Jacob's are on a mission to spread the message that Ireland’s diverse range of clubs offer something out there for everyone. They sent TV Presenter and Comedian Kevin McGahern to join the Circus Factory Cork, to give the sport a try. Watch how he got on below.

Circus Factory Cork is by far one of the most unique clubs in the country, and for those who have always fantasied about joining the circus, their dream can easily become a reality.

We caught up with professional circus artist and circus trainer Judenald M. Penders, to find out everything there is to know about joining an Irish circus.

The community

“It is a community organisation and professional training space run by volunteer members. It offers classes for beginners, a training space for professional circus artists and everything in between.”

Jude is passionate about the fact that the club is for everyone, and that age or ability shouldn’t limit anyone from giving it a go.

“We have a program that caters for children, a youth program that caters to teens and then we have any range of adult classes, it’s a pretty broad age range. We wouldn’t be of the mindset that if you can’t touch your toes you can’t do this, or if you have some serious debilitating injury that you can’t do this. It would very much be a case of, right, what can we do? What can we teach you? And what can we learn?”


Learn new skills

“The range of things we offer for people to learn would be things like silks, trapeze, hoops, rope, acrobatics, hand balancing, juggling, tightwire walking and act creation. We also offer clowning, although that’s not the most popular at the moment because there has been a big influx in popularity in aerial and acrobatics. That happens though - trends and fashions always change.”

Jude says that the most popular skill at the minute is the art of silks.

“It’s basically a very long piece of fabric, that’s about a meter wide and 10 to 20 meters long. It’s doubled over, and you hang it from the ceiling, so you have two long pieces of fabric hanging down and you do all sorts of acrobatics in the air on them.”

The journey from beginner to pro

From signing up to a taster class to going all the way and becoming a career artist, there are options for all levels of interest in the club.

“Starting out, you would go to a taster class or a taster workshop at a beginner level, in whatever skill you fancy. You might then become a member of the space, and then you can come in whenever the space is open. We have a rota of key holders that train in the space throughout the week, so as a member you can come in during any of those times and train and skill share with other members.”

Performers and artists are never alone and will always have help coming up with the perfect act, according to Jude.

Taking it to the highest level involves a lot of training and hard work, but it does become a reality for some.

“They would continue to upskill as much as they can, and eventually, with enough work and dedication, a person might be able to call themselves a circus artist as a career.”



The length of time it takes to go from beginner to pro varies, says Jude, but it’s working and training consistently that is key.

Good is objective, but it depends how much work you’re going to put in. If you’re going to class once a week and you train another time during the week, to be at community show performance standard it would probably take you about a year. To be at a point where you could preform as a worker, it would probably take around three years.”

Going pro is not everyone’s main goal, and many people join the club because they love the sense of community and still get the chance to perform a couple of times a year.

“As part of our artistic statement, we hold four shows a year minimum, usually closer to around six, and we hold them in the space that we train in. We have lights, a sound system and seating, so we set it up and advertise it a few weeks beforehand. We have a small team of stage hands, all volunteers and community based. Some will take on the role of advertising on social media, and we usually get a crowd of about 100 people per show.”

Jude and co are busy this week preparing for their biggest event of the year, a circus festival in Cork City. The festival sees the circus crew take over the city and it is the perfect time for anyone who might be thinking of joining to try out some classes and workshops.

“We run a circus festival called Pitch’d, it’s our third year running it and it’s held all across the city in Cork. It starts on September 18 with a movie night and then from September 20 to 29 all sorts of shows, workshops and events will be happening all over the city. There will be a lot of beginners focused workshops, tasters and sharing.”

So, whether you have always liked the idea of joining the circus or you suddenly find yourself curious about some of the jaw-dropping skills you could learn, the Circus Factory Cork might be just the place for you. Jude says that beginners are always welcome and that no matter who you are or what your ability is, they will find something that is just right for you.

He says, “There’s something for everyone and there’s a place for everyone.”

To enquire about classes, workshops or Pitch’d, check out the Circus Factory Cork website or contact them on Facebook HERE.

No matter what you’re into, there’s a club for you and with the launch of new Jacob’s Club Chunky, there is now a Jacob’s Club for everyone too.

To celebrate the Launch of NEW Jacob’s Club Chunky, Jacob’s visited two of Ireland’s most exciting clubs – including the Circus Factory Cork. Visit the Jacob’s Instagram to see what they got up to and to win some Clubs for YOUR club.”

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