Thursday, January 13, 2011

Renowned Circus Performer Rob Mermin kicks off national tour in Middletown

Oddfellows Playhouse and ARTFARM collaborate on event about the history of the circus

Middletown, Conn. – Oddfellows Playhouse and ARTFARM are pleased to announce Rob Mermin, founder of the international youth company Circus Smirkus, will kick off his national speaking tour with an evening of personal anecdotes and film clips on circus history at Oddfellows Playhouse located at 128 Washington St. in Middletown.

The lecture, filled with clips from Hollywood circus feature films and personal stories, will begin at 7 p.m. and is made possible by a grant from the Middletown Commission of the Arts.

"It is great that the Middletown Commission on the Arts is making it possible for Rob to come here,” said Jeffery Allen, Producing Artistic Director for Oddfellows Playouse. “The MCA is the sponsor of our Children's Circus of Middletown, in its 23rd year this summer, and ARTFARM's Circus for a Fragile Planet. Rob is kicking off his national tour to raise awareness for youth circus here in Middletown - which shows just how important these programs are. Rob is also leading a workshop with the students of the CT School of Circus Arts - a premiere youth circus program led by artists from ARTFARM and Matica Arts. There is an amazing amount of circus right here in Middletown."

Mermin is an award-winning performer with Copenhagen’s Gold Clown. He has also been awarded Russia’s Best Director Prize and the Governor’s Award of Excellence, Vermont’s highest honor in the arts.

Mermin trained with the renowned mimes Marcel Marceau and Etienne Decroux, and is also a former Dean of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College.

Mermin will delight the audience with stories of running off to join the circus as a teen in the late 60’s. During the next forty years his circus adventures took him clowning with tent shows in Wales, mule wrangling in Lapland with Sweden’s Circus Scott, riding with the Magyars in the Hungarian State Cirkusz, three years with the famous Benneweis Circus Building in Copenhagen, and entertaining royalty in the circus palaces of Europe and Russia.

In 1987, he founded Circus Smirkus, which The Boston Globe called “one of New England’s most treasured cultural and educational resources.”

Tickets are $5.00 and can be purchased by calling the box office at (860) 347-6143, by e-mail at or online at

The CT School of Circus Arts is a circus training program for students ages 12-18. Students meet on Monday evenings and build skills as jugglers, unicyclists, acrobats, clowns and stilters. The program is led by creative artists of ARTFARM and Matica Arts. This is the only year-round structured circus training program in Connecticut and is designed to serve both beginning and experienced performers. Interested students can visit for more information.

Oddfellows programming is made possible through the generous support of the CT Department of Education, the CT Commission on Culture & Tourism, The Stare Fund, the Middletown Commission on the Arts, Pratt & Whitney-Middletown, the Irving Kohn Foundation and the Daphne Seybolt Culpeper Memorial Fund.

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