The Armenian circus has a history of centuries. It takes a unique place in international cultural inheritance having a unique history full of rises and falls. Circus was the most acceptable type of theatre in Armenian Medieval, it used to be called “tatr” or “teatron” then. Many historical sources introduce the Armenian circus as a type of mobile theatre. It is expressed at miniatures of the middle ages. In 1846 an Armenian circus named “Aramian theatre” was established in Constantinople. Its show was mainly consisted of power demonstrating, amazing and frightening scenes.
“Aramian theatre” had lasted for 20 years till the end of 1866 as the first and the only one professional circus in Middle East. Having a history of centuries the performing traditions of the Armenian circus developed also in Soviet Armenia. In the 1930′s there was a wooden circus building in Yerevan, in 1939 a new building was built in its place and the building was rebuilt in 1962. The Armenian circus artists acted in the ranks of various collectives of USSR Central Department of The Circuses. In 1956 an Armenian circus collective was founded (from 1961 “Yerevan”), the artistic director was famous equilibrist A. Arzumanian. Creating a unique national circus was determined as the main direction of the collective. Traditional and modern types of the Armenian circus were developed in Soviet time. The brightest page of the Armenian circus history was created by USSR national artist Leonid Yengibarian. He created a traditional clown mask: sometimes happy, sometimes sad, sometimes shiny, sometimes courageous, revealing a lot of human feelings.
He could act primely in any genre, but the mummery was the best and he created his own “Yengibarian’s” mummery. The hard social-economic situation of independent Armenia’s first years affected on the Armenian circus in the worst way. Not only the circus playlist decreased during the years, but also the circus building was destroyed to build a new one. From the 1990′s the Armenian circus started to connect to outborder circuses widely. Today the Armenian circus tries to keep its traditions at the same time using the international experience. A lot of Armenian artists act at many famous circuses in the world.
Translated by Hrayr Petrosyan