A daring tale of humanity, Waldo’s Circus of Magic & Terror is based on an original idea by Hattie Naylor, and co-written by Hattie Naylor and Jamie Beddard with an original score by Charles Hazlewood arrives at The Lowry, Salford from Thursday 20 to Saturday 22 April.

Set in 1933 Germany where Nazis are burning books and suspending civil rights, Waldo and his eclectic troupe of acrobats and clowns dedicate themselves to their craft. Concealed within the glamour of Waldo’s big top, stories of love, courage and resistance are revealed as the world outside this remarkable circus troupe becomes darker and more dangerous.

The story is informed by historical research and the experiences of real performers. The star of Waldo’s Circus is ‘Krista’ played by Abbie Purvis with Lawrence Swaddle as ‘Gerhard’. Waldo’s Circus of Magic & Terror is a large scale collaboration between D/deaf, disabled, and non-disabled artists and creators and tours nationally in 2023.

Extraordinary Bodies acknowledge the Holocaust and the millions of Jewish victims, and other groups* including disabled people who were targeted for persecution and murder. In making this work, the company affirms its unwavering commitment to counter antisemitism, racism, and other forms of intolerance that may lead to group-targeted violence.

The world of Waldo’s Circus of Magic & Terror takes the painted-on glamour, skilful risk-taking, fierce loyalty, and the idea that ‘the show must go on’ as its narrative pillars. Set in 1933 when the law for “Prevention of Offspring with Hereditary Diseases” is passed, Waldo the Ringmaster with his travelling circus of outcasts and misfits, acrobats and aerialists, lovers and fighters are surviving in the fervour of Hitler’s dictatorship.

Jamie Beddard, Writer said: “As a disabled person and artist, I’m acutely aware of the stigmatisation of particular groups and people through the growth of fascism in the past and now. The popularity of Eugenics in early 1930s Germany marked the beginning of a dark chapter in history where millions of people who were deemed not to conform were brutally hunted down and ‘dealt with’. Whilst researching this period, the role of the circus in helping some of these people escape and find sanctuary provided the basis for Waldo’s Circus. Our dramatic exploration of this moving and brave story reminds us to be always vigilant, and with the energy, skills and creativity of our artists, we hope to create a spectacular, meaningful and vital piece”

Hattie Naylor, Writer said: “The inspiration and story of Waldo’s Circus evolved from initial interest and conversations generated by Todd Browning’s iconic film Freaks, released in 1932. It occurred to me that there must have been circuses in Germany that had so-called ‘freak shows’ at that time. So, I started researching, and I found that not only was this the case but these performers were smuggled out of the country through the circus networks, to Paris and beyond. Jamie, Extraordinary Bodies and I worked on the characters together, taking inspiration from a variety of circus artists from both the past and present. Extraordinary Bodies is not only doing radical work but is utterly inclusive and aims as a principle to make everyone welcome and heard. It is a privilege to work with a company with this profound ethos at its heart.”


20 – 22 April – The Lowry, Salford

Duration: approx. 120 minutes

Age recommendation: 12+


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here