Thursday, 17 May 2012

Cirkus Verdensteater, Oslo

Circus World Theatre built in 1895 near Haakon VII's gate in Oslo on a site called the tivoli. It was one of two national circuses, the second being in Trondheim.

Until 1897, the building was owned by Danish businessman Bernard Jacobsen, who had acquired the land in 1887. The building was constructed of red brick and total cost 300,000 ore. The Circus had an inside diameter of 40 metres, a height of 32 metres, a floor area of ​​3,200 m² and seating for nearly 2,500 people with facilities for artists, horses and equipment.

Interior 1900

Circus was not a permanent one but was visited by other travelling circuses such as the Danish "Circus Schumann". The building was also used as a cinema as well as for music festivals and performances. It had its own orchestra and conductor, and had performances by artists such as Heinrich Botel, Thorvald Lammers / Mally Lammers and Ellen Gulbranson. After demolition in 1935 it was replaced on the site by the Klingenberg cinema in 1937.

Interior 1908

Lowry possibly refers to the circus in his novel Ultramarine when he describes the protagonist Dana Hilliot thinking back to his time in Oslo with his girlfriend Janet Travena (Pg. 68) and continues with; "Nevermore stand in the gallery at Revy Circus Globus. Do you remember? Vi nar program for alle og enhvers smak. Hand balances from a Springboart and Tumpling act! Morsomme Klovner! Akrobater! Balansekunstuere! Slangemennesker! Luftakrobater Obs! Populaere billetpriser: Galleri kr. 1." (Pg. 69). Lowry is possibly basing his description on a possible visit to the circus on his 1931 trip to Norway though there is no documentary evidence. The description seems to be based on a programme for the circus - a device Lowry used many times in his writing. Further evidence that this is the circus he refers to is that he visited the nearby  Røde Mølle restaurant and also refers to other places in the general area of the Tivoli/Stortingsgata area in both letters and Ultramarine.

The circus is marked on the 1917 map of Oslo (Christiania) below (click to enlarge):

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