Skip to main content









Donation Heart Ribbon

Rounding Up The Usual Suspects At ‘Circustantial Evidence’

A Circus Noir Murder Mystery

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando rounds up the usual suspects for a look at 'Circustantial Evidence."

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando speaks with the Circus Collective of San Diego about changing perceptions of contemporary circus.


Circustantial Evidence

August 1 and 2 at 8:00 p.m., Glashaus, 1815 Main Street in Barrio Logan

The Circus Collective of San Diego wants to expand awareness of the circus arts through the development and production of original shows such as "Circustantial Evidence: A Circus Noir Murder Mystery."

Where: The Glashaus. What: A ringmaster gone missing. Who: The usual suspects.

There's Anton "The Chef" Peppin. Lola Hornsby. Violet Monroe. Everyone has a motive and everyone suspects each other. It's a classic noir web of deceit, betrayal and intrigue, but this time at a circus.

"I’ve always loved film noir," said Daneille Berg, artistic director of the Circus Collective of San Diego. "I just love old movies and there’s something about the melodramatic, dark, but when it’s pushed to its extreme, kind of comedy [about noir] that suits circus very well because it’s so emotive and just so fun to play with. So when we started thinking about about a film noir and all the different characters we could pull out of it — the femme fatale, the inspector, the villains — it just had so many possibilities."

Berg explained, "We’ll have trapeze, aerial straps, rope, juggling, contortion — so all those kinds of just spectacular performances. But (it's) all woven into a storyline of a kind of down and out detective who stumbles across a circus troupe who’s missing their ringmaster, and he’s trying to solve the case and each performer is a suspect. And it’s a very intimate show. It’s a smaller venue, and we really like that. The audience is right up close, and they get to be involved in trying to solve the whodunit mystery and participate in this way."

In recent years the whole concept of circus has changed.

"It’s gone from what most people think of elephants and lions and freak show to being this new contemporary art form that really focuses on exploring the limits of the human ability, physically and emotionally, to connect with an audience. And we’re really excited that Circus collective is part of this growing movement of grass-roots contemporary circus troops that are just really challenging all the old notions of what circus is," Berg said.

One of the collective's performers, Zoe Irvine, had this take on what the group is doing:

"That’s another mission of ours, to realize that circus is theater, circus is dance, and circus can be involved with music. We had live music in our last show.

"We want to create collaborative projects with other kinds of artists as well. The community is being offered something very special, which is an opportunity to see a different kind of circus and on a very local level, which I think a lot of people (who have) given feedback are really surprised that this is going on in their community."

Find out whodunit this Friday and Saturday night at Glashaus with "Circustantial Evidence."

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or subscribe to our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.