Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Step Right Up! Come one, come all to the John E. Conner Museum for scenes of the circus

The Little Theatre, Conner Museum - 05/19/13 - 05/19/13

Contact: Julie Navejar
julie.navejar@tamuk.edu or 361-593-2590

Does the inner clown in you ever make an appearance? Do you want to learn how to bring that clown out in the open?

Timothy Tegge, circus historian, collector and performer can help as he holds an artist workshop at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. He will demonstrate the art of applying clown makeup, show how to use humorous props and more.  The audience will be invited to participate in the workshop scheduled in The Little Theatre.

            Then, he and his wife, Barbara, will perform their family variety act Mystification: Magic and Illusion at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 19, also in The Little Theatre. The act features magic, comedy and juggling.

            Both of these special events coincide with the circus-themed exhibit currently on display at the John E. Conner Museum. Step Right Up! Behind the Scenes of the Circus Big Top, 1890-1965 takes the visitor back to childhood days when the circus came to town, complete with a circus train packed with canvas, exotic animal menageries, strongmen, fat ladies and roustabouts.

This new traveling exhibit is on display for the first time in the United States at the Conner Museum. The exhibit continues through Tuesday, May 25.

Tegge, a second generation circus performer, was immersed in the circus culture from the day he was born. He first appeared under the big top when he was three, alongside his father, a career clown for the family-owned TNT and Royal Olympic Circus. Tegge continues to perform in circuses around the country as an illusionist, ringmaster, performance director and sometime clown.

            The Conner Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Admission to the museum and the exhibit is free, but donations are welcome. For more information, call 361-593-2810.

About the Exhibit

            Those visiting Step Right Up! Behind the Scenes of the Circus Big Top, 1890-1965, will get to explore another side of the thrilling spectacle and a history complete with intrigue and majesty. The romanticized imagery, backstage stories and photographs featured in the exhibit reveal both the fantasy and reality of circus life, exploring the illusions that played to the imaginations of so many.

            The exhibit also highlights how the insatiable fantasy of circus life was both an alternate reality and a vision founded in truth. For many performers, the big top’s nomadic life offered a different kind of escape and, in many instances, a life that challenged the economic and gender conventions of the age.

            Step Right Up! features approximately 60 pieces of circus history, including full-color posters, costume regalia, historic photographs, billboards, oversize graphic and oral histories from past performers. It takes viewers behind the scenes of the circus, exploring dramatic pageantry, colorful past and living presence of this grand American theatrical tradition.

            The exhibition is toured by ExhibitsUSA, a national program of Mid-America Arts Alliance. ExhibitsUSA sends more than 25 exhibitions on tour to more than 100 small- and mid-sized communities every year. Mid-America is the oldest nonprofit regional arts organization in the United States. More information is available at www.maaa.org and www.eusa.org.


This page was last updated on: May 09, 2013