McLaren Circus

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Sometimes incorrectly referred to as McLarens Circus or McLaren's Circus. A circus founded by brothers David McLaren and Duncan McLaren in April 2005, starting to tour in 2006.

The circus started as a smal1 150 seater circus, using a small two pole church tent. The Circus opened up at the Blue Route Mall on the 24th March 2005. The circus was never funded and the Brothers funded it as out of their own pockets. The brothers hired in acts from a local circus school, David Mc Laren was the ringmaster and Duncan Mc Laren clowned in the show. In 2005, the circus only operated during school holidays only in Cape Town.

In December 2005, the circus purchased its first tent, a 22m x 28m red and yellow marquee tent, which was localy made in Cape Town. The circus played for the first time outside of Cape Town and toured the Gardern Route. Early 2006, Duncan Mc Laren left the circus and returned to freelancing in Cape Town. David Mc Laren continued the circus, touring with only two caravans, a trailer and one bakkie. The circus did not do financialy well that year, and closed late December 2006 in Paarl.

2007 the McLaren Circus mainly presented private shows for shopping Centre's and functions in and around Cape Town. The Circus was also hired by the Cape Town based theme park Ratanga Junction for the School holidays of 2007. The circus only presented a tent show that Easter holidays and for a few venues in Cape Town. The two brothers re-united for the Ratanga Junction project. The circus also featured animals that included dogs, snakes and goats.

In March 2008, after the brother's run at Ratanga Junction ended, a big decision was made. The red and yellow tent was pulled out of storage, erected and the McLaren Circus would become a premanent touring circus in South African. The McLaren Circus toured the Western and Eastern Cape Provinces that year with success. The Circus also bought its first truck (8ton), two camels, four horses and two lion cubs.

2009 was a historical year for the Mc Laren Brothers and the McLaren Circus. The Circus returned to Cape Town after touring the Eastern Cape. The circus moved from the beloved red and yellow Marquee to a bigger white and red four pole Big Top. The circus aquired more trucks and started touring the whole of South Africa. Late 2009 the circus built its first ticket office trailer. Prior to this, the circus sold tickets out of the a caravan that housed one of the brothers.

2010 rolled in and the circus continued to tour South Africa. Playing all towns the circus came accross, no town was to small or to big. The circus retured to the Eastern Cape late 2010.

2011 the circus returned the Western Cape Province after a two year absence as the circus was touring new Provinces. The circus aquired artists from China and new animals too. The Circus now tours South Africa, still without any sponsourship or funding.

Among its performers are the clown Little Alex (Alex Whata), Francesca,


Chris Marais and Julienne du Toit, "Clowns in the Country", South African Country Life, April 2012 pp 49-51.

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