By Kathy Chouteau
The circus is returning to Richmond this weekend, and it has plenty in store for its encore.
Circus Bella’s “Flip, Flop, Fly,” described by its writer, director and ringmaster, Abigail Munn, as a “60 minute explosion of joy and circus,” will return to Point San Pablo Harbor, 1900 Stenmark Dr. in Richmond, Sun., July 17 with shows at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. As with the fall 2021 performance, attendance is free, however a $20 donation is suggested.
Munn said that when the one-ring circus troupe visits Sunday, 20 show performers will be in tow, including acrobats, aerialists, jugglers, clowns, a hula-hooper, balancing act, Chinese pole climber and other extraordinary acts.
Rob Reich and the six piece Circus Bella All-Star Band will accompany the troupe, performing live original compositions that Munn said range from traditional circus marches to cool jazz and many other musical genres in between. The collaborators have been working together extensively, resulting in a “really fluid relationship between the artists and the band,” she said.
When it comes to giving live performances, Munn said she likes “that spontaneity—it’s a little different every time.” She added, “We’re out there in the elements reacting to what’s going on that day, that second. So I think we’re built to be live performers.”
Munn said they’re returning to Richmond with Flip, Flop, Fly because they “love Richmond so much,” and because “Point San Pablo Harbor is really magical.” All signs indicate the city’s love for Circus Bella is mutual, judging by the big crowd at its previous performance here.
So where did Munn—who co-founded Circus Bella in 2008 with David Hunt (who has since moved on to another organization)—get her inspiration for writing Flip, Flop, Fly? She shared that inspiration comes from the emotions she’s feeling at the time. “Sometimes I think the titles [of the shows] very much are where I am in my life.”
She added that, while there’s no set narrative or story involved in the current show, it evokes the sense of how, as humans, we are drawn to reaching for better heights—and how getting there doesn’t always happen on the first try.
Flip, Flop, Fly is a family friendly circus for people of all ages that features performers from throughout the Bay Area and beyond. Since Circus Bella doesn’t provide seating, audience members are encouraged to bring blankets and small folding chairs to the performance. While there will be more parking opportunities available than there was for the fall 2021 show, carpooling is encouraged, per Munn.
Circus Bella’s current 13th Annual Circus in the Parks Season is supported, in part, by San Francisco Grants for the Arts and the California Arts Council. For more info about Flip, Flop, Fly, including a directional and parking map, click here.