Reg Bolton (clown)

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Reginald Ernest Bolton (13 November 1945 – 14 July 2006) was a clown, teacher, actor and writer. Bolton's 1987 book New Circus has been called "seminal," and influenced a generation of performers.[1] He used the circus for education and community development, working with the children on the streets of the Craigmillar estate in Edinburgh.[2]


Reg was born in Margate, England. He was educated at the University of Warwick, where he studied English and European literature. In 2004 he completed a PhD, Why Circus Works: how the values and structures of circus make it a significant developmental experience for young people, at Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia.

He married Annie Stainer,[3] a dancer, mime and clown, with whom he had two children, Jo and Sophie.


Reg worked tirelessly with children and communities both in the United Kingdom, and in Australia where he settled with his family in 1985. He owned and ran the Circus Shop, selling a range of circus equipment such as juggling gear and unicycles. He was a pioneer in the area of educational community circuses.[4]

He wrote and produced many works,[5] including:

  • 1983 Circus in a suitcase. A practical manual. New York
  • 1987 New circus. A world survey. London. Occasional journal Suitcase Circus News.
  • 1988 Videos Circus skills and School circus
  • 1992 Video Safe circus
  • 1995-98 Regular columnist for Laugh-Makers (USA) and Pro-Circus (Australia)
  • 1996-04 Occasional contributor to Spectacle
  • 1998 Showtime. Best-selling children's book, (Premier's Book Award, 2000)
  • 1999 Paper on Circus as Education in Australasian Drama Studies
  • 2001 Keynote Speaker, Festival of American Youth Circus Organisation, Sarasota, Florida. Theme: Circus to save the world.
  • 2002 Intensity in tent city. Leeds University, England
  • 2003 Keynote Speaker, International Clowns Symposium, Weston super Mare, England. Clown abuse.
  • 2003 Article: 'The Philosopher on the Flying Trapeze'. Discourse, San Francisco.
  • 2003 The wisdom of clowns
  • 2004 PhD paper: Why Circus Works: how the values and structure of circus make it a significant developmental experience for young people


Reg died unexpectedly while working in Kununurra, Western Australia at the Agricultural Show,[6] "doing what he did best, putting on a great show".[7] His funeral[8] was held at St George's Cathedral in Perth, Western Australia on 29 July 2006, with a celebration[9] of his life held at the Camelot Theatre, Mosman Park on 30 July 2006.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Davison, Jon (2012). Clown: Readings in Theatre Practice. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 185. ISBN 9781137300751.
  2. ^ Ward, Steve (2014). Beneath the Big Top: A Social History of the Circus in Britain. Pen & Sword Books. ISBN 9781473840867.
  3. ^ "Annie Stainer". Total Theatre. Archived from the original on 21 August 2006. Retrieved 31 July 2006.
  4. ^ Leach, Robert (2018). An Illustrated History of British Theatre and Performance, Volume Two: From the Industrial Revolution to the Digital Age. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9780429873331.
  5. ^ "CV of Reg Bolton". Archived from the original on 7 August 2004. Retrieved 31 July 2006.
  6. ^ "To be missed by many". Kimberley Echo. Retrieved 31 July 2006.
  7. ^ Glover, Tina (26 July 2006). "Reg Bolton: Clowning showman who took new circus round the world". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 July 2006.
  8. ^ "Reg Bolton's Funeral". Retrieved 31 July 2006.
  9. ^ "Celebration of Reg's life". Retrieved 31 July 2006.

External links[edit]

  • The Life and Work of Reg Bolton A tribute website dedicated to social circus pioneer Dr. Reg Bolton (1945–2006) . It includes a photo library, notice board & other archives.