‘Dinna Forget: Circus Histories From The North East of England’, by The Family la Bonche

This engaging, scrapbook styled, research into local circus history is both an important access point to the subject, and an excellent example of social circus engagement going beyond physical skills training, and delving into areas of heritage (which have been sadly starved of attention).

Published by Circus Central in partnership with the Tyne & Wear Archives and Discovery Museum, ‘Dinna Forget’ was researched and edited by the young people of Circus Central’s Five Ring Circus, managed and produced by Helen Averley (aka Madame La Bonche).

Following reproductions of selected favourites from the Arthur J Fenwick Collection, the volume contains an extensive series of single-page profiles, generated from the project’s digitisation of the Fenwick Collection of circus posters, photos, newspaper clippings and other ephemera, and from the creation of an archive for recent circus presence in the North East.  The tone is light and, if not wholly consistent or grammatically perfect, keeps a strong sense of personality, with occasional annotations from the team.

There is a strong, clear design concept, and the profiles are presented in a roughly chronological fashion.  This becomes looser over the more recent years, due to the complex overlap and interchange of artists amongst various new companies.  Every page is clearly labeled with the relevance of the artists’ regional link – touring visit, local production company, birthplace etc – while the main body text and collection of photos focus on the work produced.

For the images alone, this book is un-mined gold.  For the researcher, it is an easily managed catalogue of launchpads.  For the circus fan, it is an evolutionary chart that never judges the various changes that the industry has undergone since the opening entry of 1237, but embraces the expanding field.

"Dinna Forget" circus history by The Family La Bonche

La Bonche, Family eds. “Dinna Forget” Circus histories from the north East of England: 1237-2013 (Newcastle: Circus Central, North EastCircus Development Trust. 2014) ISBN: 0905974913

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